Among the River City Runners and Walkers, the eight mile course is infamous. I'd been warned here and there about this run's intensity, listened to 'good luck' wishes, and worked to psych myself up for the long roads ahead. To say I underestimated this particular course is a massive understatement.
To start, I'm almost positive over 75% of the course was uphill. I know what you're thinking, 'Erin, if there's an incline, surely, there's a decline ahead.' Negative. I think the course was engineered to be vertical.
Second, the heat. We've been lucky, up until this week, to have mild conditions and even a few well timed downpours during the long runs. After a day of on-and-off rain, I was confident an evening shower would help cut the humidity and make things less sticky. No such luck. It was roughly 90 with 85% relative humidity. It felt like pea soup out there.
Then, my audio inspiration fizzled out. Mindy Kaling and her audiobook 'Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)' was my running partner for the past week and less than a mile into my run, it ended. No Mindy on my run was a bummer, but I'd just downloaded some Fleetwood Mac, so I had options.
The hardest part came at a water stop. I was at the seven mile stop and greedily snatched up a cup of H2O from one of the many fantastic water stop volunteers. Another runner was near and asked what distance stop we just reached. To my horror, it wasn't mile seven and just one mile away from the finish line. It was only mile five. Three more miles? Seriously? Brutal reality check.
But, here's the great part: this was my worst run to date. Yes, that's correct. I learned this week, in running just like in everyday life; I'll have fantastic days and truly terrible ones. For me, this course was pretty awful. I can't even count the number of times I had to slow to a walk and then talk myself into jogging again. For other runners, this course was a stroll in the park. Good for them, and I'll do better next time.
Additionally, my fantastic days are likely to be someone else's horrible ones, so kindness and some inspiration can make an enormous difference. I would have given up on training long ago if I didn't have the kindness of club members to rely on.
J.K Rowling wrote (through the voice of Professor Albus Dumbledore) 'We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.' Someone being there to offer me cold water, even if it is three miles away from the finish, is an act of kindness. Club members patting me on the back during the run is an act of kindness. Motorists who veer close to the center line to avoid hitting me is, well the law, but also an act of kindness. Kindness can turn a terrible run, or day, around and help you power through to the finish. Kindness can make all the difference, and luckily kindness is contagious.