On Friday, I woke up at 6:30 to head to the Los Gatos Creek Trail with my mom where she meets her friend, Sharon, at least three times a week to walk around the lake at the crack of dawn. I joined them for the first few minutes of their regular walk and then took off running on my own. Somewhere along the way, I decided to run to the Lexington dam. It's funny, this thing you do as a runner, where you sometimes get half-way through your longest distance ever (in my case, that was 6.6 miles round trip) and think, I FEEL FINE! I'll just keep going another mile! But you forget you'll have to pay for that extra distance at the END of your run, when you're generally not feeling quite as perky or ambitious as you do when you decide to keep going.
But the dam was 5.5 miles away and I wanted that god damn dam. I texted my mom to tell her not to wait for me and wrote my ass a check for an 11-mile run. Unfortunately, having never run that particular trail before, I somehow took a wrong turn and ended up on a muddy trail in the mountains, no where near the reservoir. I finally cut my loses and turned around. My round-trip mileage was still a personal record at nine miles, the last one of which I walked with my mom.
The next day my right knee was KILLING me. It was the first time I've ever felt any pain after running and I can probably thank that sprint I did down the mountain after I got lost. (BUT RUNNING DOWN THAT HILL WAS SO FUN!!!) So I decided to run only three miles instead of the five I wanted to do. That was Saturday. When I got home, I was headed to the city to hang out with my brother and since the ONLY thing I had wanted to do for myself during this vacation was to run the Golden Gate Bridge, I googled the route before we left and tried to figure out the best time to run to avoid both tourist congestion and fog.
Google said 7:00 AM, which was perfect. We'd have plenty of time for Dim Sum before I headed to my cousin Krystal's at 1:00. WIN!
Except the next link I clicked on informed me that the bridge would be closed to pedestrians Sunday morning FOR A MARATHON.
The first thought that went through my head after all the cursing and the lamenting that I'd saved my ONE FUN THING for the very last minute was, fuck it, I'll just run the damn race! I'd just finished my 12th mile in two days, I could wade my way through another 13.1, right?
I immediately went to register myself only to find that the race sold out weeks ago.
So I posted a craigslist ad seeking anyone willing to sell me their race entry and bib so I could run. (Don't send me hate mail, I know it's against race rules. Bite me.)
No one answered, anyway.
I was screwed. I decided to head to San Francisco, drop the kids off with my brother and run the bridge that afternoon, in spite of my aching knee. I WAS GOING TO RUN THE GOD DAMNED BRIDGE. Even if it killed me.
Then, as we were pulling into the city, I got a text message from someone who saw my ad and wanted to sell me his girlfriend's bib and you know what that means, right? I said yes.
TO RUNNING A HALF MARATHON THE NEXT MORNING.
I'm crazy! Especially since I could. not. even. walk. The twelve miles I'd done over the previous two days had hobbled me. It was the most I'd ever run. Ever. That night I limped my way alongside the kids to the yogurt shop like a geriatric and then worried all night about my stoopid knee.
Bengay! Tylenol! Icy-hot pads! Stoopid, stoopid knee!
But I still got up at 5AM, threw on Ms. Anna Bank's race bib and spent forty minutes looking for a parking spot. I finally limped my way down to the waterfront - fifteen minutes late - and headed straight for the Port-o-Potty. In spite of not drinking any coffee, Mother Nature decided to bless me with a pre-race gift. (THE GIFT OF POOP.) (Which I've been told is a good race omen.)
Anyway, I only mention the poop because A) AWESOME! and B) as I was sitting on the throne, I checked facebook and saw that my friend Sara had posted a picture of herself IN THE STARTING LINE OF THE VERY SAME RACE!
Sara and I went to high school together and each of us has since lost over 100 pounds. We've kept in touch mostly via facebook, especially lately, because we can geek out on running together. I had hoped to meet up for a run with her while I was in California, but I knew she was recovering from surgery and her doctor hadn't given her the pass to run yet.
I think this is pretty much the definition of kismet.
It took us approximately thirty seconds to find each other after I messaged her because we ended up in the same corral. (KISMET! AMIRIGHT!!?) Then I told her about my stoopid knee and that my only goal was to run as much of the bridge as I could and FINISH THE RACE. No time goal whatsoever. Which was EXACTLY what she wanted to do too. Normally Sara could smoke me in a half marathon, but because of both of our injuries our timing was perfect!
We walked/ran the whole race side-by-side.Isn't Sara's smile absolutely infectious? She kept it on her face the entire race and I caught it the way you'd obliviously catch a yawn. I was totally terrified going in this morning, but seeing her changed EVERYTHING. Not only did I finish my race, but I got to catch up with a fantastic old friend the entire time. We were so busy talking, we never even put in our ear buds. The view was everything I ever wanted it to be and when my knee got sore or she got tired (she hadn't run in over a month!), we stopped running and just walked. Sara literally saved me from injury. If she hadn't been there checking her Nike+ and keeping us on pace, I am 100% sure I would have run too fast, too far and overdone it. I would have taken myself out for the rest of the season.
(ME AND MODERATION. TWO GREAT TASTES THAT HAVE NEVER MET ONE ANOTHER.)
KIS-FUCKING-MET. I'm telling you.
It was a perfect "race." I got to run across my beloved bridge and I got to do it with a beloved friend.
I never ran long or hard enough to get out of breath, which was hard for me (and I know it was hard for Sara too because she's an Athlete with a capital A), but it's been nearly twelve hours and my knee is FINE.
Thank you Sara! Thank you kismet.
The most important thing I'll take from today was how much being injured SUCKS. I overdid it earlier in the week and I paid for it every. single. step. of that 13.1 miles. The whole race hurt my body in a way I've never experienced before. So instead of going balls out all the time, I'm going to reign myself in a bit and give my muscular fitness time to catch up to my cardiovascular fitness. (Oddly enough, after the first mile or so my heart/lungs can run forever. It's my knees/hips/feet that hate me.) I'm going to be more consistent with my weight training and yoga. I'm going to follow an ACTUAL training program so I never hurt myself again.
I'm also going to sign up for another half marathon ASAP.
May the poop and kismet gods be with me!