Rochester, NY

9:52 AM

My body is reminding me that I am not a jogger. 3.5 miles is not that long, but when you haven’t trained other than cardio machines at the gym, your body will speak to you. My thighs feel the burn and stretching isn’t helping. My back feels like I’ve been punched a few times. It’s weird, my arms even had an ache to them when I woke up.

But last night was a lot of fun. The team I was on had 8 of us, six ladies and two guys. It had been 5th grade since I ran in a distance race, and there weren’t 10,000 entrants to that one, so I wasn’t sure how we would all start at the same time. The way they did it was have signs at the start, guestimating how many minutes per mile you would run. I went in between the 7 and 8 minute mile area. I had no idea how I would do, but my friend in Phoenix is a tri-athlete and when I asked him what my goal should be, he said 8 minutes would be good.

It was 86 and muggy at the start. That means it was hot. On top of that, cram in 10,000 people onto a two lane road. That is muggy heat plus body heat. While the announcers did the PR and political stuff, I was sweating. And then they sounded the horn and we were off. Or as off as you can be when 10,000 people are trying to move in the same direction.

The play by play of a race is slightly different than that of Lebron James’ night or a day on the golf course, but there are a few highlights. The crowd eventually spaced out and I did my best to breath as much of thick air as I could. I was glad that my legs weren’t in pain as I ran, meaning nothing in the shins or knees.

They had a water station at the first mile marker and I was anxious to have some. I have seen movies and watched sporting events where runners are given glasses of water. My image is of them drinking and throwing down the cup in a show of strength. I was looking forward to my own behind the back cup toss.

My feet clippidy-clopped past the water station, my right hand taking a glass. My parched throat anxiously awaited the H20 as I tilted the glass upwards. The water poured in. I was in full jog and the water went down the wrong way. I choked, and then coughed, but I kept running. As I said, this was my first race. The water went back up. I slowed down, but wouldn’t allow myself to walk. That image of strength was now replaced with the reality of almost choking myself and then throwing out my back because of the coughing while running.

That water station didn’t work out as planned, but I pressed on and the race went well. I mastered the water station at 2.75 miles, this time slowing down slightly. I will say it is not easy to be out of breath, running, and trying to drink at the same time.

In jogging terms, this race is a short one. A marathon is 26.2 miles. An Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by 112 miles on the bike, concluding with a marathon.

I will show the time I grew up here, but there was a song I remember from high school by the rappers Geto Boys called “My Mind Playin Tricks on Me.” My mind was messing with me on the track. It was weird as this voice popped up, saying, “You don’t have to run this fast. Slow down.” And at other times, “It’s OK if you want to walk, it’s not like you are going to win.” This voice would pop up from time to time, making me wonder if I really wanted to try and hit that 8 minute mile goal. I could just chill with a glass of water and walk. If my mind was messing with me like that on a 3.5 mile run, I can’t imagine how that works in a marathon or Ironman.

That can be related to life and business. You have a goal and it takes work to get there. You start off on the road and you are making progress. Then time and that voice takes over. The easy thing is to take a shortcut, do something unethical, or just bag it altogether. Or you stay the course. Once you hit your goal, the party is a big one.

So I pressed on, definitely feeling the muggy air in my lungs. My shirt was soaked with sweat but the 3rd mile marker came into play. Then the crowd was there, cheering us on to the finish. I will have to admit, their screams of, “You can do it,” and “Almost there,” didn’t get me as pumped as I thought they would. I just wanted to get to the end!

And I did, in 29 minutes and 4 seconds. I was very happy with that. I didn’t let my mind trick me into walking and I was close to the 8 minute mile average. I may have hit it if the start wasn’t so slow. And if I didn’t gag myself at the first water station.

I just read in the paper the winner finished in 16:52. That is sick.

I huffed and puffed as I did the cool down walk. There were thousands of glasses of water, sports drink, and bananas. The first person I saw who I knew was my friend’s girlfriend. This was 30 seconds after I had finished. I had a glass of water in my hand and she asked me how I was doing. I said, “Hot, but OK.” We talked and she asked me how I was doing like five times. I saw her later in the night and she said my face was a mix of red and grey.

But I was fine. I ate and drank and did not cramp up. I am glad to say it is over, but I am also glad to say I left it all on the course. My body is sore today, but my mind is not. Enjoy the weekend…