Yesterday, I ran the Thanksgiving 4-miler. It was the 7th race I ran this year. All seven have been GP races. And, because I am in a new age group, (55-59) I have taken first place in my age-group category for my first six races. I anticipated I would win this one as well, and, for the first time win my age group in the GP.
It’s been a tough year for me in terms of running and training. Hal’s ALS has progressed very, very rapidly. In September 2009, he ran a half marathon, albeit very slowly for him (9-minute mile pace.) By late November 2009, a year ago, he had just given up running, but he was still walking, and doing everyday things in a normal way. The ALS progression did not stop, or even slow down from there. Hal continued to experience losses in strength throughout his body. He is now not able to walk. He will be getting a G-tube (feeding tube) next week. His speech is very weak, sometimes incoherent, and he will be getting a speech device within the next few weeks. The pulmonary doctor thinks it’s time for him to get a trache and start using a ventilator, at least on and off through the day. Every week, he needs help with more and more activities of daily living..
I’ve been gradually getting back my running speed since my knee surgery in June 2010. It’s been challenging, because I am now on a “Hal schedule” – Hal can’t be alone. And we have a 12- hour IV medication schedule to meet. And I’m still working part time. Recently, I ran a couple of early Tuesday track workouts at sub 7-minute mile paces – with my heavy rigid knee brace on – and the pace actually felt normal again. I ran one morning with the Vieja Valley group, again wearing that annoying brace – at a sub 8 minute pace and it felt easy. One thing about “brace training” – it’s like training with extra weights and restrictions – you feel so free when they’re gone! And they are gone for short races. I allow myself that luxury. Hallelujah!
Hal loved to run. He also loved to watch me run races. The last few races I ran were difficult for him to get to – too early, too far, too off road. So he wasn’t able to come come. I won my age group in those races, but Hal wasn’t there to watch me win. He was really happy he would be able watch me race the Thanksgiving 4-miler.
I was really happy, too. To make it even more special, our daughter Erin, who lives in Denver, was in town for Thanksgiving, and she decided to join us.
We arrived at the race early yesterday around 8:10am, and parked the wheelchair van near the registration/finish. Beautiful weather! I picked up my race number and warmed up. Felt great! Came back to check on Hal and my daughter near the car around 8:45am. The line of people who had not pre-registered was still very long. Around 8:50am there was an announcement that the race would start 10 minutes late. I stayed with Hal and Erin.
At 8:04am as I was thinking I’d better head over to the start, Hal said “Let me take a picture of you and Erin”. Erin and I posed. Smiling. Facing Hal. It took Hal a while to take that picture– pulling out his cell phone, manipulating the controls – all very challenging for him. But he did it!
Then he said “– oh – Fran – I think the race has started!” My back was to the race, and I had no clue. I was stunned. Glanced at my watch – it was only 9:06 – the race wasn’t supposed to start until 9:10 according to that announcement.
I took off toward Hollister.
Got to Hollister – and to my dismay I saw people already turning onto Turnpike. I hit my GPS lap button – (No time to stop/restart!) and kept running!
I ran a very fast race – considering my erratic training over the past year. My time – 28:14 – was over a minute slower than 2009 (27:05), – but it was a good, fast run for me, just over 7-minute pace.
However, I did not come in at that time on the clock. Because of my late start, my official time is at least a couple of minutes slower than my actual race time. I did not win my age group. And although I had bested my current age-group competitor in every head-to head race prior to this one, for the first time, I came in officially after her.
Am I unhappy? No. Disappointed, yes. But very happy. I had a great run. My husband, the love of my life, was there. So was my daughter. If I have to chose between having Hal and Erin at that race vs. winning the GP for my age group, there is no competition whatsoever – and I got my choice.