This morning, I awoke early for Run 4 the World. I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. I ate breakfast (mistake – more on that later), and at about 8:30, my parents and I left for the run.
We went to Lowenstein Park in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. My cousin, who was organizing the run, had reserved a picnic shelter, where he and his family were waiting. It was a SMALL group, a total of only 13 people and one dog. It wasn’t until the run was over that my cousin explained why the group was so small – his organization had determined that smaller runs were easier to reproduce internationally. That’s fine, though I will say I think I would have enjoyed the run a lot more if that had been communicated in advance.
It was cool this morning – just a little over 40 degrees. The big dip in temperature was a big adjustment. I wore shorts and a tech tee, with a track suit on top before and after the race to keep me warm.
Before the race, we stood around the picnic shelter waiting for everyone to arrive. (Not that it took long.) It was right at this time that Paul Lamb commented on my post from yesterday. Thanks, Paul! Your timing was outstanding, and your encouragement meant a lot!
The park has a somewhat looping path that is a little under one mile long. With none of the traditional race paraphernalia (start/finish lines, air horn, etc.), we all just kind of took off at the same time. My mother and one of my cousin’s friends stayed at the picnic shelter to hand out water bottles and to keep an eye on my cousin’s three kids.
I started the race wayyyyy too fast. Within a quarter-mile, I was sucking air, while my brain was yelling “too fast! too fast!” I slowed down as best I could and tried to get my pace back under control. I willed my heartbeat to slow down!
The first half-mile or so was a bit cold, as I anticipated. Once I was moving, I warmed up and felt better.
For whatever reason, I expected this park to be flat. It was not. The hills were not huge – there couldn’t have been more than a 0.5% or 1% change in the grade, but it was enough that I noticed, and long enough to be difficult.
Once I’d found my pace, the first half of the race went smoothly. It was a lovely park, and we weren’t alone. There were other runners, plus at least three or four dog-walkers. A few families with young children were enjoying the playground. There was one family that had come to the park with a photographer, and they visited several places around the park to take family photos. Several times, I saw them posing on the path ahead of me and slowed down, but they were incredibly kind and always waved me through!
I need to mention here that I usually don’t eat breakfast before I run. Usually, my schedule works such that I eat after I run. Today, though, that just didn’t work, and I ate a banana and peanut butter before I left home. I was afraid that I would need something to carry me through until lunch. Mistake! At about the 35 minute mark, my stomach cramped terribly! It hurt!!! I ran through the cramp, but it was HARD and my pace fell apart. Eventually the cramp eased and the pain went away – but after a few minutes it came back. For the remainder of the run, I was struggling to just keep going.
Finally, with only two or three minutes left in the run, I got to another of those hills and just couldn’t run another step. I walked the last bit, then collapsed in the picnic shelter.
Afterward, we sat around and talked for a few minutes about Operation Mobilization (the organziation sponsoring R4TW) and their work with sports missions around the world. There was a platter of Chikin’Minis from Chick-Fil-A, a tray of cookies from one of the grocery stores, and a few pounds of bananas. I couldn’t eat for a few minutes – my upset stomach was NOT happy. Finally I was able to eat a little, and drink some water, without feeling too bad.
Overall I ran 3.92 miles in one hour. It was an interesting experience. It was definitely a great way to start a Saturday morning, and it’s a lot more fun to look back on it now that I understand the organization’s goals for the run.
(Yes, I’m publishing this after midnight. I napped after the run, and now my schedule’s off!)