This was the weekend for the Race for Fetal Hope in Denver which I had signed up for several months ago. I wanted to run this 5k race for me, Chase and all the babies that got help from and would someday need help from this foundation. I haven't exactly been training by definition. But these days, training means getting whatever I can in whenever I can and it's not as always consistent or scheduled as I would like, but it's productive and for this reason, I like to challenge myself by running races. I really liked the idea of running a race for an organization like this and when I registered, I ordered customized bibs for the event with Chase's picture on it in memory of him--a special keepsake for my memory box. I ordered 3 with the possibility that I might decide to register the girls for the run, too, depending on our schedule. A couple weeks ago, then, I decided to register for the Turkey Trot 10k because I had a pretty good time on one of my runs and thought I might actually be able to catch some old times of mine. This race was scheduled the day before the Fetal Hope run. I thought it would be a good chance for me to run a 10k and if I was up for it, I'd still give it my all for the 5k, and if not, I'd run/walk it with the girls or possibly not go at all because we had a scheduling conflict on Sunday (Reese's SuperBowl).
Fast forward to Friday and I finally registered the girls for the Fetal Hope run on Sunday, still planning on running the Turkey Trot on Saturday, competitively. Saturday morning was cold, but Owen only woke up once in the middle of the night, so things looked good for me getting to the race on time. I felt good physically, cleaned out digestively (yay!) and thus was very stoked for the race when I got there. Lined up, couldn't hear anything from the race announcers so I just followed the crown and off we went! I felt pretty good for the first mile. I noticed there were a lot of younger runners (like 6-9 year olds) and I did also notice a lot of light green bibs while mine was light orange, but still did not think anything was awry. Everyone was running pretty fast and I didn't see the competitive runners but I figured they were way ahead of me already anyway. My mile 2 pace was right on, as well and I felt awesome. Thinking things were good. Then, it was over. We wrapped around teh school and there was the finish line and my race, that I thought was a 10k, was only a 2mi and it was over. I didn't even sprint at the finish because I thought I still has 4 miles left.
Hmmmm. Not a super bright move on my part. But you know what. There was nothing I could do about it. APparently the 10k runners lined up and went the other direction from the start of the 2 mile race where I had lined up. Oh.Well. I wasn't even breathing hard when it was over. In fact, I was tempted to keep running just because I was warmed up and feeling pretty good. But I didn't. I went to my car and headed home. Only to be rewarded in my headphones by the voice of Lance Armstrong, congratulating me on the fastest mile I have ever run at 6.4 something. Little did he know I was in my car for the last half of that mile. Ha! I hadn't even shut off my watch yet! I decided to turn into Einstein's Bagels and grab me a bagel and a latte. Something I was looking forward to after my 10k, but decided to binge anyway.
The funny part to this story is that when I got the results later that evening, I opened up the email curious as to what the 10k times were for the race. However, the 2 mi popped on my screen first and there was my name--I won my age division for the 2mile. The irony. Even though I could care less about a 2 mile race, I got first place and my age group was the most populated age group in both the 2 mi and 10k female races. It barely felt like I got a workout that day, but I decided that I would try my best at the 5k in the morning (today) and see how I did.....
Now to today--Sunday. It snowed most of the day yesterday and was pretty cold this morning when we woke up. But we were pumped to participate so we dressed warm and headed downtown. We picked up our bibs and shirts and pinned on our Chase bibs with the race bib to the shirts we got. After hanging out in the warm car for a while, we made our way to the start line and listened to music and waited for start instructions. They were going to start us in two waves--the first being the fast runners (8:45 pace or less) and the rest waiting a few minutes before they started. There were over 1500 Girls on the Run participants so the start was pretty busy. Later I would regret it, but I sent the girls back to the second wave start line while I stayed up at the front to run with the faster runners. As the start time neared, the announcer talked about the organization and how it started and what it meant to him, the person who started the whole thing with his wife when they were pregnant with twins who were diagnosed with TTTS and told would die in utero. Their girls are now 9 and active and healthy. He spoke of some other twins that were present today who were celebrating their 3rd birthdays, some others that were 8 years old now. Then he said there were some people running for loved ones and said "The Pearson family is here running for their baby brother". He said another family and then said, "And there are several others here running for angels, as well." The tears in my eyes had been welling up and as soon as I heard our name, I started bawling. I was right up at the front of the start line, all by myself, but with several hundreds of people and standing right near the speaker as well. No one knew me and I had my sunglasses on so my tears were flowing very freely. And it was just bizarre. I had suddenly really regretted not standing next to the girls and hoped they heard our name mentioned. I felt like Chase was talking to me through him. I felt so alone lost in the middle of a sea of people listening to a loudspeaker that was speaking directly to me. It sounded like he said our name randomly, but so very purposefully. It didn't mean anything to ANYONE except me and the girls, and like I said, I didn't even know if the girls heard it. I felt Chase's presence right then. But not like he was right there with me or on my shoulders or something. Just like he was watching. I cried until there was 15 seconds left to start. I don't know if anyone saw me but it was so loud that I didn't worry about anyone hearing me. My bib with his picture was on my back so I know everyone behind me saw it and I kept thinking about that the whole time I was running. Each time I passed someone or someone passed me, I knew they saw my bib. Strangely, I didn't see anyone else with personalized bibs like we had made, but I know there were other teams running for loved ones. Most of the runners were the Girls on the Run organization and then the runners at the start with me were I'd say pretty competitive, so somewhere in between there were people running specifically for this cause.
I'd say I ran the first mile on emotion. I didn't know my feet were so cold until the gun went off and I took my first step and couldn't feel my feet. Brrr. The feeling came back by the second mile and I tried to keep my pace up. THe last mile I picked up my pace and sprinted the end. As soon as I crossed the finish I started looking for the girls to catch up with them. When I finally did, I asked them if they heard the announcer and they did not. :o( I was really bummed. And then I felt even more like Chase was talking to me, letting me know he was there. It was really strange and it's hard to explain but whenever there is any sort of connection to him, I'll take it and embrace it. I have no expectations when it comes to getting signs from him because I will never know. I signed up for this race with Chase in the forefront of my mind but I didn't expect to feel him with me or get any sign from him. I just felt it would honor him and that it was a great cause to support. That's not to say that I don't hope for signs though. So when something like this happens, I go with my gut and what it feels like at the moment. And right then and there, it was amazing. Incredible. Emotional. Magical. And most of all...Private.
So I ended up 3rd in my age group out of over 300 women (most were probably with Girls on the Run but still!) The girls and I had a quick bite before we headed home. It felt good to be with them, doing something healthy together for an important cause. I couldn't have asked for a better morning.