I’ve been getting pretty good at getting up at 6 or 6:30 on Sundays to have enough time to get in a longer-than-a-weekday run and still get back to the cave before the kids or the Big Guy are ready to hit the all-you-can-eat buffet in Cambridge, NY. Sunday wasn’t much different. It was raining, but I’d tackled the rain issue, and decided to go anyway.
I planned to go to the park since my usual route was about to be the scene of a 5k and 12k to support our local community day care center. But as I got to the turn for the park, I pulled the steering wheel the opposite direction and headed toward the covered bridge in West Arlington – a stone’s throw from Norman Rockwell’s studio. When I drove through the covered bridge, I saw several cars parked at the grange building on the other side.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to support the day care center – both my kids went there for preschool. But I have my first 10k coming up at the end of October, and I knew I needed both Sundays to get the longer routes in. I was also keenly aware that this race would be longer than anything I’d planned or done. I wasn’t thinking clearly because somehow I ended up getting out of the car and squishing through the muddy field to register for the 12k part of the race.
My boys were still at home with their aunt, and the Big Guy had gone in to work to cover a shift for a friend, so I was feeling a little lonely, but it had been a spur of the moment decision. I’d be busy for an hour and a half, but I knew six-year-old Thing2 wouldn’t tolerate an hour in the damp.
The rain stopped by the time the kids’ 1k fun run began. By the time the 5k and 12k participants began assembling, I’d waved to moms and dads I hadn’t seen since the beginning of the school year.
Fiddling with my music player and zipping it into its Ziploc baggie in my belt, I started dead last. I was to be happier for it.
I started slowly, determined to run the entire thing one way or another. The only person I passed on the entire race was another runner with a music player malfunction.
As I got close to the first turn around, other runners began passing me the other direction. I started yelling “Good Job” and “Way to Go”, and they did the same. I began passing friends. Sometimes we waved, other times we slowed to high five each other. Everyone – walking or running – was smiling.
The 12k continued past the starting gate for another lap out and back the other direction, and for a while, I was very alone. I settled into my Sunday pace, meditating and enjoying the saturated fall colors against the grey sky and dirt road. Then the front runners began to pass me on their way back to the finish line. Again we cheered each other.
Typically (for me) I got close to the turn around point, and promptly got confused. After running back and forth few times until my app said I’d gone 6.25 miles, I decided I was far enough out to get back and get all 7.45 miles in. Except for a car making sure the last runner hadn’t collapsed, I finished the rest of the route alone.
At the end, there were a few people still waiting to cheer the slow pokes. I got my 3rd place souvenir (out of 3 in my 40-something age group). I gave pats on the back to a few people and got a few myself and then went home to get cereal on the table for my boys.
I was soaked. I was sore. I was freezing. And I couldn’t stop smiling, even when I snuggled on the recliner for a nap. Some Sundays, the best plans are the ones that get rained out.