Alternately titled "How I Ended My Summer Vacation."
I don't love running.
There! I said it!
I don't like broccoli either.
It has taken me 38 years to realize this.
I want to love both of them, cause I know how darn good they both are for me...but I just don't.
Sometimes I like running.
There are those rare moments, (and half-assed runners like myself can attest to this fact) those limited occasions where you actually want to run.
Your heart races in anticipation, and your legs feel like rambunctious puppies, eager to be set free.
On these infrequent occurrences, it seems like you can fun forever. Until your iPod battery runs out, or your shoes shred, or the sun goes down. Nothing hurts, your breathing is even and deep, and life is good. Almost zen.
You can truly see why people love running.
This has only happened to me twice. In 38 years.
The rest of the time, when I attempt to run, I feel just like the couch potato that I am meant to be.
My legs feel like they are forged out of leaden ballast bricks. And what is that behind me? My enormous fifty pound butt. So. Hard. To. Drag...
My lungs burn like I have pneumonia, and I can literally taste blood.
My feet slap on the pavement, and I am counting the seconds until I can be done already!
I have a constant inner dialog:
"Let's walk for a bit, Mr. Heart's not doing so well..."
"Heart is fine! We are fine! Shut it!"
"Heart is not fine. Heart is flopping around like a dying fish..."
"Heart is WEAK! We are doing this for Heart!"
"Heart likes just walking. And slower walking."
So one day I decided to embrace my inner athlete and give a 5K a whirl.
Prior to the big day, I had never run a full three miles without stopping.
I had run plenty of broken up miles, one mile running, then a block or two of walking for Heart. Lather and repeat.
So that was my only goal for the day.
I told myself, "Self, just run the whole thing, you don't have to be fast, just run it all."
That was my only goal.
Oh, and to not vomit on my own shoes.
So I showed up that Saturday morning, with a banana swimming in the nervous pit of my stomach acid, sporting the shirt, my own pinned-on number, and a newly forged play list with butt kicking music.
There were some announcements, and sponsors to thank, and "There will be assorted donuts at the finish line...!!"
With the race route explained, we lined up, and the starting gun fired.
Within the first few minutes, the pack spread.
The real runners took off like gazelles.
Me and the rest of the middle pack started pacing ourselves.
The tail-enders consisted of grandmas with walkers, and moms with toddlers in strollers.
I knew I could take them on!
I had no idea what I was doing.
I just didn't want to burn everything off with my starting adrenaline.
So I kept a steady pace, slower than I usually ran.
Pretty soon I passed a few people.
I matched pace with a few people, and we would pass each other, and be passed.
Let's never speak of the 11 year old boy who sailed past me in flip-flops and a smug grin.
(I never saw him again...)
All too soon I realized I was nearing the finish line. For real.
And I was not dead, and I was not tired.
So I pushed it a little.
I think it was the donuts.
If I finished somewhere in the middle, all that would be left would be apple fritters.
So I passed one more guy coming into the final stretch, and crossed that line.
They handed me a ribbon, and wrote my bib number down.
I expected screaming fans and vuvuzela's and possibly a choir of angels!
I finished a RACE!
That I RAN!
That I ran the whole time! Without stopping!
My cousin had a camera with her, and caught the only photo I have of the day.
Then I decided that I should probably go home and get started on laundry.
I was proud of myself.
And that whole day I felt like I was a runner!
I wanted to talk to other runners, about running!
I wanted to eat broccoli!
Later that afternoon, I went back over to check the stats.
Lo and Behold, a pre-Christmas miracle.
I took second in my age division!!
Granted, I was probably in the same category as the grandmas in walkers, but what the heck? I take what I can get.
It was my name, I checked twice.
And then, to my amazement, I got a phone call:
"Is this Shaunte Wadley? Hey, why didn't you stay for the awards? You took first in your age division, and second over-all..."
I guess when I checked stats, the "woman" who finished ahead of me, was actually the man I passed in the final stretch. He and his wife had gotten their bib numbers switched.
I am going to repeat myself. In case you didn't hear.
I TOOK FIRST IN MY AGE DIVISION.
I am not going to tell you how many people ran it, or what my time was, cause I am pretty sure it doesn't exactly rank up there with such races as say "The Boston Marathon" or "Race for the Cure."
I took first.
And I am taking it.
Cause that's how I roll.
And I am going to brag about it for the rest of my days.
And I have given myself the fine gift of never having to race again, cause really, what is there to aspire to?
I already have a FIRST PLACE!
And a delicious jelly donut.