In the last 15 months, I have run six, 1/2 marathons and hundreds of miles of training. Today the run was different. Today it was more than a run. Today deserves a tip of the hat for all that it was.
The Benbrook 1/2 marathon is known for the rolling, winding course on the west side of Lake Benbrook. It is a tough course on a good day. Today was not a good day. We started in 27* with a 15 mph north wind, which means it felt more like 14*. Many fewer runners even came to the lake this morning than had actually paid their entry fees.
At about mile one is a low water crossing. It rained pretty heavy over the last few days so water was running a couple of inches deep and about 10 feet wide. Yes, we all got our feet wet. Well, so not all of us. One lady piggy-backed on a guy, and a number of people literally turned around. Now, with wet shoes, on we go.
A couple of miles later a blast of cold wind hit me in the face and which made me turn my head to see a doe, a deer, a female deer (Yeah, I just quoted liberally from the Sound of Music. It is my mom's favorite movie.) come running out of the woods, cross the road 20 yards ahead of me, and then jump the fence and disappear into the pasture.
Another mile or so and the Benbrook ambulance drove by me. I have no idea if someone was hurt. About the same time there is a man standing in the road telling us to run in the grass (which was really just mud) to avoid the ice sheet on the road. On the way back, we just walked across the ice.
Thank you to the nice couple who was standing at the top of the "Nice Hill :)."
On the way back, the hills begin to take their toll. And we were running more or less toward the north. It was brutal. I kept thinking to myself, "If you finish strong you can go to Starbucks or Einstein's." Sadly, my self-motivation was not enough to keep the pace as strong as I had really hoped. The wind, the hills, the cold all proved to be better than my best. It didn't help that at the last water stop gave us water that was beginning to freeze. Nothing says, "Finish strong," like a half-frozen cup of water.
Mile 12 brought me back to the low water crossing. This time I chose my steps poorly as I went ankle deep with both feet. And as the guy next to me said, "I think the water has gotten colder."
Finally, the last turn, you can see the house. And there only yards from the finish was my family, Tammy and the boys. I told them they were crazy for standing out there in the freezing cold. I was so cold much of my stomach and legs were red from the cold even 15 minutes later as I undressed to take a warm shower.
Yeah, if was more than a run today. It was a test. And I passed. I know I can do hard things again. So much more seems possible today. Two hours and 27 minutes of a test in a 15* windchill but I passed.