Trot Toward the Finish Line


Julie and me before the Turkey Trot

With all the build up to the Turkey Trot, I thought you’d like to know how it went for Team 40/10. This is my account of reaching for the next goal.

It’s 6:30 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. Alex has already hit the snooze button twice.  Gotta get up because it is TURKEY TROT DAY!!!!  Fanfrickintastic! The first snow of the season came today accompanied with rain and wind with a “feels like” temp of 30 degrees according to the pathetic weather man that has to work on Thanksgiving.  We put on our layers of clothes like we are getting ready for a trek through Antarctica.  Julie (Team captain of Team 40/10) and her husband Tom arrive bright eyed and bushy tailed on our front door step at 7:00.  My heart is racing and we are still standing in my kitchen. I’m so nervous because, up until that very moment, I had only run 5K’s on the treadmill with no hills, wind, or people to dodge.  I had previously run 2 miles outdoors and thought I saw my life flash before my eyes.  How the heck is this run going to go for me today?  My goal is to run the whole 5K and not kill myself or other people.  I would also like to avoid looking like I’m about to have a heart attack, asthma attack, stroke or other acute health emergency.  I manage to slug down a protein drink and ½ a Larabar and a glass of water.  My stomach is quivering so much I can’t muscle down the rest of the fruit bar. I’m freaked out over the possibility of not achieving this first goal. I want to do well because it will set the tone for the training I have to face the rest of the year with the Chicago Marathon as the ultimate goal.  If I’m this much of a wreck before my first real 5K, what kind of a disaster will I be standing at the starting line of the marathon? Too much to process….must trot like a Turkey….must avoid looking like a Turkey.

After parking the car several blocks from the starting line we start to see them.  We see those very serious runners that are doing a warm-up run back and forth along the street.  Julie and I exchange knowing glances that say “We are not doing that!” without having to utter a word.  I’m a bit concerned because I’m a tad winded from the walk up the slight hill and from adjusting to breathing in the cold air. I have visions of me walking after 2 miles of trotting. We finally arrive at the school and it is teeming with all kinds of participants. There are the afore mentioned serious trotters donning shorts and Chicago Triathlon shirts, gaggles of high school girls wearing matching neon tie-dyed knee socks, regular folk looking for justification to eat an entire pumpkin pie, little kids (this strikes fear into my heart –oh the agony of being shown up by an athletic 6 year old), parents with jogging strollers and everyone else in between.  The diversity is comforting as I don’t think I’ll stick out if I should feel the need to walk.

We all find our spot at the starting line and we are packed like sardines. I’m protected from the wind by the ring of people around me.  The announcer is announcing something and then just like that, the pack loosens up because it’s trotting time! I push the start button on my watch as I cross under the banner and Julie and I get going. Alex and Tom are long gone and that’s just fine with us.   The energy of fellow runners, the chatting I hear all around me, the relief that it’s all begun – it’s exhilarating.  Previously I told Julie that I wouldn’t be talking to her because I was sure I’d need to conserve my breathing or else I’d lose consciousness.  I’m feeling so good; I actually get a few comments out of my mouth without feeling like dying.  Julie calculates that we are on our usual pace as we pass the 1 mile marker. I take note of my heart rate (still beating, but not too fast – check), I take note of my breathing (still breathing , but not too hard – check) and we take on mile 2.  It’s around this time we spot Uncle Sam running alongside us.  Really…he’s got a costume on from head to toe. We get passed by a number of quick footed runners and we pass others.  Hopefully the “others” view Julie and me as “quick footed” too .  We make the first turn and we are both amazed at how strong we feel. We comment on the apparent turn in the weather.  All the wind and spitting rain has stopped.  It’s actually perfect running weather in our opinion, because if it was any warmer we’d be sweating our heads off.  I take off my gloves, tuck them into my shirt and unzip my hoodie. Instantly I feel more comfy.  All of a sudden we spot the 2 mile marker. It’s just about snuck up on us! Woo hoo! We can hardly believe it’s here already. Remember, the last 2 mile run outdoors was a huge struggle for me. Julie hadn’t even run outside because she’s been sick. We were conquering this thing!!  We continue to navigate through the throngs of runners, being passed and passing others again and again.  We pass a water station without taking water. I wish I could say it was because we didn’t want any, but I wasn’t so sure that it would be a good idea to mess with our pace. Slowing down might never turn into speeding up again. We make what I think is the last turn back toward the school.  I announce this to Julie and we keep chugging along.  It’s at this point we see those really, really excited runners coming back towards us on the sidewalk. Yup, these folks were not only finished with the trot, but they were running back home. They were shouting things like “You’re almost there! Good job!”.  I’m jealous that they are done and have energy /audacity to come running back voluntarily.  Well, the finish line has got to be coming soon.  And there it is… I see the beige bricks of the school at the very end of the road. Julie tells me that I should go faster if I feel like it. She tells me she feels her coughs coming on.  I see another turn that I’m absolutely convinced is the last turn and I get excited.  I really want to be done and my legs feel good so I pick up my speed.  I hear Julie say “Go Toni!” and then I go.  I start sprinting around the corner and I’m a bit annoyed because the finish line is not as close as I would like it to be, but I’ve already started sprinting.  About  ¼ mile from the finish line I really start regretting the decision to sprint so early.  I see the people lining the streets and the finish line ahead and I dig deep.  I…just…want…to …be…done…al…read…y!! And just like that I step over the finish line, under the banner that we trotted under just 33 minutes and 25 seconds earlier. I throw my hands up with no one in particular watching. I DID IT! I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I DID IT!  I find Alex, Tom and Julie at our predetermined meeting spot. We are all vertical and smiling.  Alex with his long legs finishes in 26 minutes. Tom, a previous marathon participant, finishes in 28 minutes. And despite Julie’s proclamation that I smoked her, she finishes just 10 seconds behind me.

Miles and miles away, another Team 40/10 member is doing her self-made solo 5K with her girls and husband at her finish line. Unlike us, she had hills, ice, and traffic to face. Colleen is the watermark for our team.  She sets the bar high for all of us with longer distances and faster times.  She finishes in about 29 minutes even with all her obstacles.  A rock star as usual!

Goal 1 is done! Julie and I can’t stop saying “We did it!”.  We can’t stop smiling because it wasn’t so bad. It was fun and it felt great! We are looking for our next challenge. Of course Colleen has already started cooking up a 5 mile Team 40/10 training run.  What’s another 2 miles….

Part of Team 40/10...vertical and smiling post trot!

Until next time… Live Well! –Toni Kuhel

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