When we left this story, I was in my hotel room in Baltimore alone at 10:00 p.m., eating flank steak and vegetables, watching CNN, texting my kids, and too exhausted to even order vodka from the bar downstairs.
So that tells you something right there.
It’s a glamorous life, traveling to obscure conferences and writing about them, but someone’s gotta live it. Thank god I have a Flip Video now, so I can record it for you, too.
Oh, and about the videos from Fitbloggin? There’s been some sort of computer error here at my house and all the videos I downloaded from Baltimore disappeared. It’s temporary I’m sure. But let me say, there were some lovely 20 second spots of cute women boxing, and even some nice ones of the adorable people from EA Games playing the new stuff from WiiFit. I’m serious.
So anyway, I finally went to sleep at about 11:00 p.m. and then got up at 5:30 a.m. which was actually 2:30 in Oregon, for the record, in order to run the Fitbloggin 5K race at 6:30 a.m.
You may remember that I sort of set myself up for this problem, by telling everyone I was going to run this thing. I even said this on the news, which aired about 6 times one day in Bend, Oregon. So I had to do it. My trainer Luann over at Training for Fun would have killed me if I’d skipped (or she would have made do wall sits for an hour -same thing.)
I Found Her
So I got to the lobby with the other 98 women and 4 men who got up early to run,, and lo and behold, there was Fitarella, right in the middle of everyone. She’s hard to miss, despite her petiteness. Her energy filled the whole entire hallway of the Marriott.
It was friend at first sight.
We hugged and gabbed and flitted around and she said sure, sure, I’ll run with you, don’t worry, I’m not very fast either. And then we all listened to the cute New Balance Guy who was helping organize the race, who told us about some new shoes, and the route we were running, and then we went outside and started to run.
New Balance was smart to send that cute Guy, I think. We all followed him and I love my new shoes. Just sayin’.
The sun was just starting to rise as we ran along the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. It was actually quite lovely and I sort of felt like a “real” runner with all those people chatting and running and being social. I usually don’t like races because I don’t like pressure when I exercise, and the word race just seems so…pressure-filled.
Fitarella stayed with me, and we talked about stuff like where do you live? What do you do? Do you have kids? You know…stuff you should know about your BFF. Oh, and then she told me she was a marathoner. And was training for Boston. Oh really? Huh. I’m not, I said. But she kept running with me anyway.
She Found The Guy
So we got to the halfway point, which was at the end of the dock at the harbor, and Cute New Balance Guy was there, and I asked him to take a picture of us. It wasn’t just so we could stop, or say hello to him in person. I swear.
Fitarella started chatting with him about different shoe models. Because she’s a serious runner. She even knew the numbers of the shoes. I didn’t realize shoes had numbers, because I’m more of a hobbyist, I guess.
We all started running again, but sure enough, soon enough, Fitarella and New Balance Guy were sort of, you know, speeding up. Without thinking about it, probably. They were just engrossed in conversation, about different shoe numbers, that’s all.
I kept up for a while, and she did come back to check on me when I stopped to tie my shoe (again, I was not stopping on purpose or anything…really, it’s not like I was tired. It was a safety issue.) But then we all started running again and well…you know how it goes.
It’s so easy to get distracted by beauty. And conversation. And numbers. I decided to just let them go.
I could have sped up. I could have stayed with them. I wasn’t too tired, for real. Despite appearances to the contrary, I’m actually very comfortable running a 5K. Just so you know. I usually run between 3-5 miles several times a week. You know, if the weather’s good. And I’m not too busy. And I can go slowly. And tie my shoes a lot. As needed.
The Other Women
But then a funny thing happened when I decided not to catch up to Fitarella and Cute New Balance Guy. I met a lovely young woman (much younger than me!) who was running up behind me. I waited for her a bit and introduced myself. This was her first 5K, she said. She was tired, but she really wanted to finish.
My heart melted a bit because I remembered my first 5K. It was at Alton Baker Park in Eugene, Oregon a long time ago, and I was much younger and thinner then, but I was just starting to get back into running after a long break, and I was running all alone. It was labeled a “Fun Run” but it didn’t seem so fun to me.
Eugene is the home of Nike. And Bowerman. And Steve Prefontaine. And Hayward Field and the Olympic Trials for Track and Field. I mean, seriously, these people are hardcore runners. Little kids wearing coordinating Nike running ensembles were passing me on the bike path as I lumbered along. I finished close to last that day, all alone, and I felt rather discouraged. I didn’t do another 5K or a long, long time.
So I ran with this woman who kept saying quietly to herself every once in a while “You can do this. You can do this…” as I chatted enough to distract her, to keep her going. I told her it was fine to walk, she shouldn’t feel pressured to run the whole way…but she didn’t want to walk. She wanted to run it all the way. It was a goal she’d set.
I reminded her to use her arms a bit, if her legs got tired, it always helped me for some reason. Oh, she said, that’s a good idea. And she did.
So I kept talking, which I’m good at, and she kept running, and pretty soon we were almost there, almost there, just around the corner, I promise. Despite being left in the dust by my new BFF and Cute Boy, I still knew the way back to the hotel.
We even picked up another first time 5K runner about 3 blocks from the hotel, and she was also talking to herself quietly, so thrilled to be so close, so proud of herself for actually doing it, wanting to make it all the way…she was so happy to run with us. She told us her story in two quick blocks.
And then, amazingly, we made it. And everyone cheered, and these women I had been running with were so proud of themselves. They high-fived all around. They were beaming. And I was too. I was so thrilled for them.
Fitarella was there, waving at us from the finish line. We all felt good, like you usually do after you exercise, which is the real reason you exercise (at least that’s why I do it.) The during never feels as good as the end, in my opinion.
It hit me then, when I was hugging my new running partners and congratulating them on a job well done, that maybe this is why I should run 5K’s. Not because I like the actual race, but because I like to hang out with people who are working hard to achieve personal goals.
I’m glad I got up and went to the race that day. I enjoyed the journey. I think I’ll do it again.