I arrived early, knowing parking wasn't the greatest. I managed to hide in the gym at Rush Strong. I saw a lot of running friends and even one of my students and her family.
After killing an hour and a half, it was race time. I decided not to wear my garmin. My regular running partner, Kaycee, was out of town. So, I was running solo for the first time in months. I wasn't sure about it. What if I had a dizzy spell? What if my eyes struggled to focus?
The race began and I tucked in behind a small group that were running together for the first half mile. As we began a slight downhill, I pulled away. I was on my own.
A mile into the race, I heard a guy call out 12:00, 12:01... I was doing less than a twelve minute mile taking it easy. Then, there was a big downhill. I love the downhills. I picked up the pace. A little later in the race, I heard a "Go, Mr. Paschal!" It was the parent of one of my students.
I ran. I walked. I ran some more. I walked some more.
At the water stop, I got a high five from Angi, a former biggest winner team member. A little later, I got a cheer from one of my students who was running the race and had already made it to the turnaround.
Then, I saw another teacher. I had a target. For the next quarter of a mile, I worked to catch her, finally doing so as we rounded the turnaround.
Then, it happened. My vision went blurry. My eyes wouldn't focus. I kept running, knowing it was the only way to learn to adapt to the upbeating nystagmus.
Over the next mile, I saw many of this year's Covenant Health Marathon Team. Before long, I caught up to Missy Kane. She told me that one of this year's team was just ahead of me. I closed the gap over the next half mile. Rather than beating him to the finish line, I ran with him. It doesn't hurt to help out a first time runner.
Aproaching mile 5, there's a big hill. We walked it. I heard the man say 57:01.a sub 12:00 min pace for the race was well within reach. If I pushed it, I had a chance at close to an 11:00 minute pace. That's what happened. Over the next 1.2 miles, I pushed the pace, finishing in 1:09:08. I was good with that.
After the race, I ran into a friend, Shea. Her friend was new to running. It was her first 10k and she ran it in 49:45 to finish second in her age group. Not bad for her first 10k. Then, I saw my student who is a seventh grader. She finished in 53:57 along with her 10 year old sister. Not bad...I'm hoping to get back to that. Maybe one day I will.
Fortunately, it wasn't my last day. I'm glad I took the chance to run, even if I had to run by myself. Though 13.1 miles is a long way a way, I'll get there. It may take me a little more time, but I'll get there.