I was born with crooked legs…or was it crooked feet? Maybe it was crooked knees. Truthfully, I’m not sure. Whatever the problem, the cure required my infant legs to be wrapped in full leg casts. If not for the pictures, I probably wouldn’t believe it was true. The experience wasn’t traumatic and it certainly wasn’t a condition that I needed to overcome. I managed to meet all of the traditional baby milestones – crawling, walking, climbing – at all the right times. I never required a doctor’s note to excuse me from gym class and I was never told that I couldn’t participate in any kind of activity. I suppose that means the casts worked, though if you ask my husband he’ll tell you my legs are still crooked. Whatever. My crookedness didn’t stop me from running my very first 5k today on my 42nd birthday!
I won’t lie. I thought I was going to die…or at least throw up. It was the gargantuan hill (now and forever known to me as Mount Everest) tucked around the bend at the midway point that did me in. The one water stop along the route was hidden at the top of that mountain – the proverbial carrot dangled in front of the dopey donkeys. As my fellow runners approached the table, they picked up a cup of water, drank it down and tossed it to the curb in one fluid movement. And then there was me. I stumbled to the table, grabbed onto it while breathlessly uttering, “That hill sucked!” to the young girls charged with filling the cups. They laughed nervously, unsure if they should allow me to continue on or call for EMS. But I made the turn and ran the downside of that mountain like a champ, praying it was enough to propel me through the final mile of slight inclines and straightaways. It didn’t work that way.
By the time I reached the final quarter of a mile, I could hear footsteps gaining on me. Recognizing the slow struggle that was now my running stride, the kindhearted runner behind me felt compelled to give me that final boost. “This is the hardest part,” she said, slowly pulling ahead of me. “You’re just about there. You’ve got it!”
And with that, I crossed the finish line of my first 5k on my 42nd birthday in just over 34 minutes. Happy freakin’ birthday to me!