On July 1, 2014, I wrote a blog post that stated my newest running goal: running a 5K in 29:59 or less, and honoring Ben Sauer's memory in doing so. Training runs don't count; it has to be in a race. Originally I had hoped to meet that time goal at a November race, but a stomach bug just prior to the race set me back a long way, and I ended up finishing in 31:44. In December I tried again and made a 20-second improvement (31:24), but was on antibiotics for a throat infection and once again wasn't able to gut it out. In January, I tried yet again and shaved off another minute (30:22). My February race is scheduled two days from now, and I've decided that this has to be the day that I finally conquer that time goal. It's going to be about flippin' time.
In the above-mentioned July post, I wrote these words:
Jogging, for me, is an act of spiritual unification with other people.
That sounds really weird, I know, but really and truly, I find myself
connecting to humanity in strange ways when I am grunting out my efforts
into a jog. It's suddenly like everyone everywhere is my friend, and my
sense of being joined to others becomes rich and complicated. This is
why I always dedicate races and running goals to other people; it
instills within me a sense of thanksgiving for other people in this
I have spent months now running for Ben, and after re-reading these words tonight, I have never believed these words to be truer. Running for Ben has become a thing of the past. Instead, I now feel like I run with Ben. It's a funny feeling, to feel as though you are coming to know someone that you never really knew, but I have truly enjoyed focusing on this sweet five-year-old boy and what he must have been like. I have my own little boy who is 362 days younger than Ben was, so in many ways I can imagine some similarities. To add fuel to my already-flaming fire, Ben's mother Mindy personally contacted me last week and shared a heartfelt message. Her kind affirmation of my efforts has brought me to tears each time I read our correspondence, and I want more than ever now to beat this race clock!
I recently switched up a lot of songs on my running playlist, and I added Sia's "Chandelier" and put it near the beginning. I have never had a song give me more energy than this particular song, and it shows when I run. The other day I finished a five-mile run on a long day, and the last 11 minutes of that run were spent playing that song on repeat. When it plays, my sagging energy suddenly bursts, my arms start pumping on the "1-2-3" line, and I just want to sing out loud (okay, sometimes I do if I'm outside and no one is around). I've even adapted the beginning lyrics to make it work for me by substituting "party" with "running."
Running girls don't get hurt
Can't feel anything, when will I learn?
Push it down, push it down.
I tell myself all the time when I'm running, it doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt. Then, when I'm deep into a run and I'm truthful and can acknowledge that it does indeed hurt, I put on Pink's "Try," and keep running hard to her words, "Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die. You gotta get up and try and try and try." Then, when it's all going down and my body tells me I should just stop running and give up because who cares anyway, I turn on Sia--over and over again, apparently. I have a feeling that her song will pop up two or three times on Sunday when we set a new personal record. (Note my positive thinking.)
Five or six times now I have easily beat the 30-minute mark in training. Other times it hasn't been so easy and I cut it very close, like today when I did my final training run before Sunday's race and I clocked in at 29:56. I won't kid myself; I know it's going to be close on Sunday, and the potential for winter precipitation doesn't make matters any easier. Nor will the promised 20-mph winds. It's okay. All I can do is the best I can do, and I think my best will be good enough this time. I've shaved ten full minutes off my time since I first set this goal, and I'm continually going faster and faster, fast as I can for Ben. Fast as I can with Ben. "I'm gonna [run] like tomorrow doesn't exist."
The Sia video, in case you haven't checked it out. The girl in the video can dance.