Have you ever sweated so bad that the sweat was dripping into your eyes? I have, and it is not pleasant!
Occasionally it happens to me while running. While at Ocean City, NJ, I went for a five mile run on the boardwalk, and this one of those times. Up to that point, I had only run 5 miles twice before at the hilly Valley Forge loop. Since I had survived the killer hills there, I figured the flat boardwalk would be much easier. But I didn’t factor in the sun and the lack of shade, and I thought I was going to die!
To be honest, I probably would have quit and not run the whole thing if I didn’t have my oldest son with me. He was riding his bike. We got on the boardwalk at 13th street, and turned right. Our plan was that he’d stop at the end (I think it’s 23rd street) and wait for me. Going this direction, I had to run about 1 ¼ miles. The run was pleasant enough, and when I got to the end of the boardwalk, he was there waiting. He smiled, hopped on his bike and said, “I’ll see you at the other end.” And off he went.
And off I went too. This time the angle of the sun and the direction I was running, meant the sun was beating down on my face. The length of the boardwalk is 2.5 miles but it felt like 25. My pace was slow. I was passed by other runners, bikers, and the occasional speedy surrey. I don’t think I actually passed any runners slower than me, just walkers, little kids on bikes with training wheels and some surreys. Since the sweat was dripping into my eyes, I had to stop at the bathroom at 12th street to get some paper towels. At that point, I’d run about a total of 2 ½ miles, and both mentally and physically I was done!
But like I said, I had my son with me. I knew he’d be sitting at the end of the boardwalk (1 ¼ miles away) waiting for me. So I kept going. I looked ahead at the ferris wheel at Wonderland Pier and thought, “It looks so far away… and I’ve got to run past it!” Every step was labored. I made it to the music pier. Then the boards seemed to be shaking a bit and I heard a loud rumbling behind me that seemed to be getting closer. The next thing I knew, I was being swallowed up by a swarm of 20 or so runners. It must have been the boys high school track team all out running together. And of course they were faster than me, and of course they were going to pass me. But as they did it, they seemed to run on either side of me. (The running lane is the center lane of the boardwalk.) And so for about 10 seconds, I was surrounded by them. And then they were gone.
Wiping the sweat off my brow every couple of minutes, I managed to keep going. I finally made it to the ferris wheel at Wonderland. And then, like an oasis in the desert, I saw Brown’s. I saw all the people standing in line for Brown’s most delicious donuts ever… mmm, donuts! And then I saw my son sitting on a bench waiting for me.
“Wow, Mom. You already ran the whole boardwalk! You’re doing great.” How did he know that I needed encouragement? I sure didn’t feel like I was doing great. But you know what, besides feeling like I was going to die, I was doing great! I was actually running the boardwalk instead of standing in line for donuts. (Did I mention that Browns makes delicious, fresh, hot, melt in your mouth donuts???? Yum! I think I could eat a whole dozen myself. I love the cinnamon, ooh but the powdered are good too. Mmm, donuts.) “See you at 13th!” And off he went.
So I turned around, and off I went too. This time the sun wasn’t beating down on my face, so it was much more pleasant. I remember thinking to myself, “Only 1 more mile left.” And then I remembered. I remembered the day that I first ran ¾ mile without walking. It was week 5 of the couch to 5k program. I remember it feeling so hard. Heck, I remember week 1 of the couch to 5k program staring at the stop watch willing the seconds to pass and thinking that jogging for 60 seconds was the hardest thing I had ever done and that the 90 seconds of walking went way too fast as I was alternating jogging and walking. But look at me now, running 5 miles and actually saying, “ONLY 1 more mile left.”
I looked at the Double Shot up at Castaway Cove and knew that I had to just get a little further than that. My pace actually quickened a little and I may have actually smiled and enjoyed the scenery as I ran that last mile. I knew I was going to finish. I still felt like I might die, but I was a runner. Not a fast runner, but a runner all the same. Heck, I was still burning the same amount of calories as all those runners passing me, they just got to finish before me. Euphorically, I made it to 13th street and there was a crazy amount of people. I mean all of a sudden there were hundreds of people at that very spot. Even though they didn’t notice me, I imagined they were all there to cheer for me as I crossed the finish line. (Turns out they were walking from the local catholic church to the ocean to bless the sea. But, I like to think that God timed that perfectly to give me a fun finish line!)
I did it! I ran 5 miles. I checked my phone to see what my time was. I ran it in 59:47. So it was basically a 12 minute mile. Not my fastest pace, but not as slow as I felt! My son smiled, “See you at the house.” Off he went, and I followed, limping along… now that I was walking my knee didn’t feel like bending anymore. But I didn’t care. It felt like a badge of honor for what I’d accomplished. And you know what, we can usually accomplish far more than what we ever thought ourselves capable of. For me it all started by running for 60 seconds…
Pressing on together,
I have to say, it is much more enjoyable to walk the boardwalk at night, than to run it in the morning!
Relaxing on the beach… Well deserved after the run!