Since I am going to (hopefully, fingers crossed) be an egg donor in a few weeks and won’t be able to train the whole summer, I signed up for the local 5 mile race, the M.A.D. 5 Miler which honors Michael Devin, “a juvenile detective for the Milton Police Department and father of three, died in an automobile accident in December 2006″. Due to the IVF treatment I will go through and the recovery time needed unfortunately I will not be participating in any triathlons this summer BUT I still wanted to compete. Needed to compete.
Competing in events is the best way for me to stay focused, motivated and in shape. I love the discipline and schedule of training, the excitement leading up to the event, the camaraderie and community that surrounds you, the adrenaline rush that courses through my body, the elation of crossing the finish line and the pride. The pride of challenging myself and succeeding – regardless of time and distance. Every time I toe the starting line I feel strong, capable and beautiful.
The M.A.D. 5 Miler took place last Thursday night around 6:30 PM – and let me say, I am not a fan of working all day and then going to a race; honestly, it was so hard to concentrate and all day I had butterflies in my stomach. Anyways, there I was, at the starting line, feeling good (I’ve done a few 5 miles during training and my goal was a 47 minute finish) and trying to soak up the atmosphere.
Then when I went to put on my headphones I noticed that they weren’t working – the right headphone had gone out and was just giving off static the whole time! With seconds before the race began I started to feel panic, but I just shoved them on and tried to block out the static, unfortunately it made the start of the race a bit of a mess since I was preoccupied trying to fix my headphones. But nonetheless I took off.
The first mile went pretty well. I put myself at the back of the pack so taht I wouldn’t hold anyone up and I wouldn’t feel rushed. This worked out pretty well and I enjoyed the scenery as the first mile was on a trail around a small pond. So pretty!
For the first mile I kept smiling and telling myself: “This is what you trained for, enjoy it!” But then the second mile came and along with it a huge, painful cramp that forced me to walk. Now, let me say, I have never felt a cramp like this while running before. Seriously it was so painful that I was actually worried my appendix was bursting! Nevertheless, I wasn’t willing to give up. I wasn’t even willing to stop. So I stumbled for a few minutes, trying to see if it helped to hold my hands up in the air and at other times literally grasping at my stomach trying to stop the pain.
Miraculously, the pain subsided after 5 or 6 minutes and I was able to run. Slowly. At this point there were only 10 or so people behind me. The rest of the pack (220 people or so) were ahead of me and I couldn’t imagine finishing. But I kept saying:
Thankfully, my amazing boyfriend and awesome friends (Jay, Alexis and Brady), were at the mile 2 area cheering me on and giving me a huge burst of support. The sign Alexis made was exactly what I needed to see!
After that I knew I had to keep going. I knew I had it in me to keep going. Over and over again I kept telling myself, “I am a warrior.” And honestly, it helped. It helped me power through the last 3 miles – up some pretty intense hills and through the trails without ever walking. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to walk. I did. Those hills were crazy and just kept coming but I didn’t give myself the option.
“Just keep running.”
Regardless of the excruciating pain in my side
Regardless of the hills that could not keep me down
Regardless of the trails that offered unknown obstacles and challenges
Regardless, I finished.
And I finished proud because even though I didn’t make my time I didn’t let anything stop me. I was a warrior that looked pain, frustration and hills in the eyes and said, “I am stronger than you.”
That’s why I love to compete. Because at the starting line I was just Erin but at the finish line I was a warrior.
Competing reminds me that I am stronger and more capable than I could ever imagine. That’s why I love the butterflies at the beginning and the challenges in the middle – because by the time I fly past the finish line I’ve gained an ounce more strength, a bit more clarity and a lot more heart.