That 5K I’ve been yapping about for the last couple of weeks. My first one ever.
And even though I didn’t meet my goal of a sub 10 minute mile, it turned out better than I had hoped for.
A last minute cancellation of my stepdaughter’s track meet allowed her to be a part of the race. Molly’s 16 and an awesome runner. Number one on her school’s cross country team. Winning the one mile and two mile events at her first track meet this year.
And it helped my nerves to have her with me this morning. At 6 am, when we were getting ready to leave the house, I asked her if she remembered my friend Martha who had died last year. She did. So I told her that today was the anniversary of her death and that I was running in memory of Martha because she was a runner.
And I showed her the inside of my left arm. Where I had written with a permanent marker.
And we both started crying. It was such a moment. One that felt really good to share. We hugged, dried our tears and hopped in the car to drive out to the park.
The sun was coming up when we got there. We parked and walked around. Took a warm up jog and stretched. Then when it came time to move towards the starting line, Molly went up to the front and I hung around the middle. I put my headphones on and tuned in to my playlist and waited for the crowd to start moving.
I ran the first mile with some speed, rocking out to Kid Cudi and Haim singing “Red Eye”, followed by Hoodie Allen, Bruno Mars and the Foo Fighters. One mile turned in to two and I started to feel a little tired.
Between two and three, my pace slowed and I even played with the idea of walking for a minute or so. But I didn’t. I pushed on, looking down at my arm, thinking of my friend and reminding myself to keep breathing.
Once I could see the three mile mark in the distance, I knew that I would be okay. I also had a feeling that I wouldn’t meet my goal of finishing in 30 minutes. But I told myself to speed up and I crossed the finish line as the digital clock hit 31:25.
I looked around for Molly and saw her looking for me. She had won her age group and placed fourth overall for the women. Absolutely amazing. I was so proud.
I’ll never forget today. My first 5K. Hopefully my first of many and hopefully my slowest. A 10:08 mile pace isn’t bad but I really wanted to break 30 minutes. That’ll be next time.
And I’ll never forget this day in 2013. I keep thinking about the phone call I got from my friend MG. Telling me what is still so inconceivable. That there had been an accident. That Martha had been hit by a car in her Brooklyn Heights neighborhood. And that she was gone.
Gone too soon.
I ran hard today because I ran with Martha’s name on my arm and her spirit strong in my heart.
And that’s all I can say.