I got up before the sun did Saturday morning. I woke up, took some multivitamins, got in a quick breakfast of oatmeal and juice, and donned my compression socks and running shoes. It was a big day.
A week after running my first 5K since my accident, I had decided it was time to run my very first 10K. Setting the Pace at Whitten Center is a run to benefit the Whitten Center in Clinton, S.C. – a campus devoted to helping those with various developmental disabilities.
The course meandered throughout the sprawling campus, and it was beautiful. Rolling hills. Open pastures. Woods. But the course was as difficult as it was gorgeous.
Boasting nearly 800 feet of elevation change, the course challenged its participants with climbs throughout the race, some of them roughly 100 feet.
One thing you should know about me, other than I was never a natural runner, is that I’ve always had a bad habit of shooting out of the gate, only to steadily lose my steam down the stretch. Same goes for swimming. I generally have always known only two speeds: Stop and Go.
This 10K, however, would force me to keep pace on a course where maintaining a steady pace seemed virtually impossible. How do you run at a consistent clip when you’re hitting steep incline every mile? The answer, of course, is practice. I’ve been practicing pacing with other runners in order to prepare for this race. I ran four miles earlier in the week, lifted twice, and then ran a steady two mile stretch near my neighborhood, intentionally hitting as many hills as I could while maintaining the same pace. But while I did that (the Thursday before my race), I tweaked my ankle. Maybe it was poor mechanics in my gait, or maybe it was the fact that I’m long overdue on new running shoes (I’ve put a massive amount of miles on my current ones since buying them in January), but whatever the reason, the lateral ligaments in my ankle seemed very inflamed and tender.
I tried staying off of the foot as much as I could throughout Friday, and used a KILLER kinesio tape application to stabilize my ankle.
Luckily, with the help of stretching, KT tape, Ibuprofen, and some prayer, I was able to run Saturday’s race. For my first 10K, my initial reaction was that the distance – 6.2 miles – was very manageable, but the hills were a nightmare. However, I was able to turn in a respectable performance, finishing in the top 10 overall, and actually turning in negative splits in two of my miles.
I turned in a 57-minute 10K, not even three months after getting t-boned by a truck, and only 48 hours after hurting my ankle – and I did it on an hilly course, to boot (one in which the race organizer bluntly said ‘this is not a course you go for a P.R. on’).
In my mind the whole time was a poster Lesley made for me.
Cute? yes. Funny? sure. But true. And as I was turning the corner toward the finish line on Saturday, I realized that it’s a miracle I can walk, much less run.
Had the truck hit me 5 mph faster, would I have had a severed spinal cord instead of a transverse process fracture in one of my vertabrae? Would I have shattered my pelvis instead of just having a couple fractures there? Had he hit me further on the front end instead of the middle of the car, would I even be alive?
I’m just grateful to be here. I’m grateful to be running at all. Grateful for a wife who has nursed me back to health. For a God who has a purpose for me.
As I turned the corner, I realized I had turned a corner in life – I can actually engage in challenging, physical activity again. I can push myself without worrying about my injuries. I can push through the pain.
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.