All I can say is, when's the next one? It was awesome. So much better than I imagined. Race conditions were perfect. We lined up at 7:00 a.m., all 10,000 of us. The sun had just risen. It started in the low 60s and steadily progressed to the low 70s by the time I finished. A fine haze covered the sun, blocking its intense rays. A light breeze cooled my face.
After the gun fired, we had to wait at least 5 minutes before we could begin moving forward, slowly, crawling, inching along with the masses. Soon, we were all jogging. Jason and I darted in and out, trying to find a spot where we could pace.
Everyone was energetic and in good spirits at the beginning. Screams and shouts of enthusiasm reverberated off the walls as we ran through tunnels and under bridges. The echoing hoots and hollers reminded me of a roller coaster ride. I smiled but remained quiet. I needed to conserve energy.
We funneled through the gates of the brewery, ran past the plant, past the stables. The stale, thick acrid-sweet smell of brewer's yeast stung my nostrils. I wrinkled my nose. Not what I wanted to be smelling at that moment. A bit nauseating.
Then we tromped back toward the Arch. I felt like I was on a tour of St. Louis. Morale was high and we chatted with strangers as we ran.
Then we began the long, slow ascent up Market. Jason and I had trained up Skinker and Forsyth so we were prepared. My legs welcomed the change of terrain. Once Market turned to Forest Park, we seemed to go on that road forever. We passed our house and started nearing the hospital where the lab is. The masses had spread out and grown a little more quiet. Crowds on the sides cheered us on.
Then, we turned and headed back, and I felt a wave of euphoria pass through me. Mile 10, and I felt great. I had a runner's high. I fell into a pace, took a swig of Propel and marched onwards. I picked up the pace. Mile 12 flew by. 1 more mile. I still felt good. My knees were hurting, but I had felt this before and easily ignored it. Consciously, I picked my knees up a little higher to avoid the runner's fatigued shuffle.
That last mile dragged on forever. Then I saw the finish looming ahead, and I gave it all I got. I crossed the finish line in good time, shaving a minute off my previous time. Plus, I felt strong and happy. I could have run farther. It was awesome. I enjoyed the post-race euphoric bliss for the rest of the afternoon.
It's been a little hard to get down the stairs but I still feel relaxed. I feel like I've turned a new page. I loved that run. There was nothing else I was supposed to do at that moment but run. It was so pure. I couldn't think about anything else, not the future and San Diego, nor what I hadn't done in lab or in the gym the previous week. None of it mattered. Nothing mattered except that moment and each step and enjoying the run. So primal. Instances of life molded together to reach a finish line.