Emotionally I feel great. Physically I’m still a bit rusty, and the Columbus 10k confirmed that.
I got up yesterday morning feeling excited, since this was the return of in-person racing for the 10k. Typically the race is the first Sunday of June and serves as my kickoff to summer, but because of the pandemic and permits the race was pushed back to September. It turns out running in September means minimal humidity and cooler temperatures, so I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.
The day did take a turn unrelated to my race though. Over the summer I had two occasions where my driver’s side window would go down and then not come back up. Thankfully on those two occasions, turning off and restarting the car helped.
Then it was yesterday morning. I rolled down my window to get the ticket in the parking garage and pressed the button to roll it back up. Nothing.
I spent 15 minutes turning the car on and off to see if I could get that window shut. Nothing happened, and I really wasn’t thrilled about leaving a window down in a public garage. However, it was too late to do anything, so I locked my valuables in the trunk and went down to the park.
I also had to use the bathroom pretty badly. This never happens at races, as I prefer to get up early and take care of all business in the comfort of my own home. I thought I was safe, but then the urge hit me with less than 10 minutes before the race started. Thank God the lines for the bathroom moved fast. I barely got squeezed into the corral before it was time to go.
Truth be told, I was so frustrated about the car and a conversation I’d had with my mom that morning – as well as hoping I wouldn’t have to see my ex at the race – that I almost cried some angry tears. I thought about crying it out while running, but then I decided the race was the priority for the next hour or so and I could cry later on if I still felt like it.
The course this year was different – start in the Arena District, head south to German Village, run through the village to come back and finish. I was a little turned around since the race has always been a north-west-back south path heading towards Harrison West and picking up the trails, and so my brain kept feeling like I was running the wrong way. Those feelings didn’t last too long thankfully.
As I ran through German Village and saw all the neighbors out walking their dogs or going on their own morning runs, I felt calmer and peaceful. I’ve spent the last year and a half looking for small signs of life remaining as it was pre-pandemic, and dog walkers is one of those feel good signs. The world felt normal and calm, and my runner’s endorphins were in full swing.
In a few words, I ran happy. I didn’t run as fast as I used to, which I knew would happen, but I did run happy. I felt settled seeing the same runners from years past reuniting again, and saying good morning to the police officers and county sheriff’s who were working on the race route.
The first mile went well. I didn’t know where exactly Mile 2 was and had to take some walk breaks, and then before I knew it I was crossing Mile 3 in German Village.
The return to the Arena District was a slight downhill to Civic Center Drive. Since I haven’t been running downtown like I used to, I forgot how much I loved that street, running alongside the Scioto Promenade and the Scioto Mile. No matter what time of year it is, it’s always bustling and beautiful.
As I was wrapping Mile 5 and moving onto Mile 6, I remembered that I was running on Long Street. Long is also the same street to the finish line at the Columbus Marathon, and the little voice in my head reminded me that in a month I’m going to be running this same way again.
I didn’t cry then, but the reminder made me emotional. And then before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line and getting my medal.
Marathoner and writer Dorothy Beal once said that she runs so many miles to train for life because (I’m paraphrasing this) “running is easy, it’s life that can be challenging.” After the past year and a half and that stupid car, I can’t disagree with her.
I’d also like to add on to her thought – running is easy, and it’s also humbling. Your problems don’t seem so overwhelming when you’re with other people who also have challenges in their lives, and when all of you are together basking in the runner’s high, you (primarily speaking about myself here) realize that your problems aren’t so great that nothing else in the world can matter at the same time.
So I walked around the park for a bit, took in the sights, took a few selfies, and then drove home to find a window covering and clean house. Marina napped most of her weekend away, and when she wasn’t napping I was told I owed somebody pets and cuddles.
Here’s to this year’s Columbus 10k. And here’s to next year’s race, to run amongst friends and be united as a family once again.
Yours in writing and running,