This weekend, something incredible happened to me. I participated in my very first ever organized sporting event. It was a local run/walk. Since I have been walking about 10-15 miles per week this summer, I decided to sign up for the 4 mile walk/run.
The event, The Tater Trot, is held annually in our community. This was its 33rd year. It starts and finishes in the park across the street from where I grew up. My parents still live there. As a kid, I remember sitting in the front yard watching it. I was never a runner, and at the time it was only a 10K. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever be part of the event. Since I was a kid, they have added a 1 mile fun run and the 4 mile walk/run.
When I mentioned wanting to do the walk, Meredith asked if she could do the fun run. My gut reaction was to tell her “no” as I knew I couldn’t run it with her. But I told her if she found someone to run with her, she could do it. All I could think was that she would go low and pass out on the street and people would run past her and I would be at the finish line crying wondering where she was. But I took a deep breath and reasoned with myself. She asked a friend of Holden’s and I registered them both.
Sydney asked if she could walk with me. I was so happy to have someone to walk with! Then I heard that the mom of the girl who was running with Meredith was running the 4 mile. Turns out my idea inspired her! But I was filled with anxiety. I have never been very athletic and this was a timed “race.” No matter how many times I told myself it was just a 4 mile walk, I was still thinking I was going to be in a “race.”
A year ago, the thought wouldn’t have crossed my mind. But I am trying to get outside of my box. And this was about as far outside my box as I could get. I would be with actual athletes. And I was convinced that I would finish last. No big deal, I told myself, it would be better than not doing it at all.
The night before, I couldn’t sleep. I was so filled with anxiety. For Meredith, but more for me. Meredith and her friend did great! I am so thankful she had a running partner who encouraged her when she wanted to stop. They finished in 12 minutes!! Not too bad for a kid who had never run a mile before. (She didn’t think she needed to train too hard!!). Our group was at the finish line cheering away. But now it was time for the 4 mile.
I gave myself a few mental pep talks. And then the gun sounded starting the “race.” So many people passed me. Even Sydney was a little ahead of me. The sweet heart slowed down so I wouldn’t be alone. I kept apologizing to her for being so far behind. I know I was dragging the kid down. But she stayed with me the entire time. I know she could have gone faster and I really felt like a charity case. I had done a few practice 4 mile walks and my “best time” was about 1 hour 11 minutes.
When we were about a half mile away from the finish line, I looked behind us for the first time. There were a few people! Wow, we weren’t last! But a few of them passed us before we finished. As we neared the finish line, I saw our friends had waited for us. The mom was done running for about 20 minutes and they could have been long gone. They were sitting on the curb and when they saw us, they stood up and cheered us on!! I told them they could have left, and they replied, “We couldn’t leave with our team still out there!” Then I saw my mom, at the finish line cheering me on. I tried so hard not to cry, and I don’t think anyone saw me, but I did. Having my mom and my friends there was so incredibly awesome. Then I looked at my time. 1 hour 5 minutes!! I took 6 whole minutes off my “best” time. And when the results were posted, I finished 4th from last. Yes, there were 3 people behind me.
1 hour and 5 minutes may seem like a long time for a 4 mile walk. And I think about 100 people finished ahead of me. But I was out there and I did it. I am proud of that 65 minutes that I was out there walking. And there were people at the finish line who believed in me and waited to see me cross that line. I may even do it again next year. And I know I have people on my side who support me and believe in me. I now have a time to beat. And if I keep up on my walking, I might finish in less than an hour. I have 364 days to work on it.
The theme of the Tater Trot is “Be Spudtastic.” The Tater Trot honors our community’s strong potato growing roots. The 10K even runs through a potato field. And the logo is a running potato. With this guy on your side, how could you be anything but Spudtastic?