A runner's high is more than just a momentary flood of endorphins during a run that make you feel good. It can be an overall sense of increased energy and elevated mood that last a whole day. Especially when you achieve a new goal or break through a new barrier.
That's pretty much how I felt all day Saturday following Run 4 the Children.
Run 4 the Children is the four mile race my adoption group holds each year to raise money. The money goes towards families who want to adopt but need financial help as well as to sponsor a bunch of orphan children in Zimbabwe. This weekend was our third year to host this event and it really is a big celebration of adoption. The race combines lots of things I love: adoption, my church, families and running.
Things flowed very smoothly from packet pickup to sponsor booths to registrations and volunteers. Minimal bumps meant less rushing around and much more enjoyment than in previous years. Also this year my whole family planned to run the race, with Mike and the boys doing the official two mile short-cut. I practiced running intervals with my five and eight year olds a few times last week to make sure they could do it, and that only made them more excited about it.
Over the past few weeks I waffled over whether I would run the full race for an official time or just run with my family. Last year I hit a PR (personal record) of a hair under 48 minutes, or 12 minutes per mile. Since I trained for the half marathon I've been running much slower than that, only hitting about 12:15 on my best shorter runs. So I had it in my head that there was no way I'd do as well as last year.
My awesome husband challenged me on my negative self-talk. He encouraged me to just run my own race and not worry about the time so much. He promised me he'd handle running with the boys.
So I did plan to run the full race, but my mind stayed on everything else. I focused on helping out where needed, which included working the registration table the morning of the race. I even registered Roger (The Rocket) Clemens! That was an odd experience. I focused on the social aspect of the day, excited to see SO many people I know from my running group and my church. Even my friend April from my Houston Bloggers networking group came all the way from Kingwood to run! I was so grateful for such a show of support for our cause.
So I ran. I wasn't sure at what point I would start walking but I knew based on last year that I could start out fast and it would help make up for some walking towards the end. I set my Runkeeper app to target a 12 minute per mile pace, even though I didn't think I'd be able to consistently stay above that based on my recent runs.
I didn't quite as fast as last year, but after five minutes my pace was in the low 11's so I was happy with that. It wasn't long before a million people passed me and a lot of folks turned off for the two mile short cut and I was running alone. I hate that part, but I determined to run my own race and not worry about anyone else.
So I ran and ran and ran some more without feeling the need to walk. It really surprised me. My pacefinder kept telling me I was way ahead of my pace, so I knew I had some room if I bonked near the end. I began to believe I really could break last year's time.
So I kept shuffling my feet and trying to keep my body up tall. The breeze and cool air REALLY helped me. I knew the last leg of the race down Peek Rd was deceptive and agonizingly long. I figured at that point, even if I slowed to running a 13 minute pace I'd PR, as long as I didn't walk. But my legs got comfortable and felt pretty strong. Once in awhile I'd start to feel slightly winded and I'd see that I was running in the low tens or even high nines, so I'd back off and be fine again.
Seeing that clock at 47 something when I crossed the finish line was so exciting. My chip time ended up being 46:35, which means I was about a minute and a half faster than last year. My average pace was about 11:39 min/mile...definitely a new record for me. Shocked and thrilled, I walked around the rest of the day on a cloud. I wasn't even sore...I hadn't even left everything on the race course, which tells me I have faster races in my future.
It was the first time I'd ever run four miles continuously, with no walk breaks except to grab water.
I also beat Roger Clemens.
My family didn't fare as well as I did. They started the race near the back of the pack but only got about 200 yards before Nathan tripped and fell face first on the pavement. He had a huge goose egg on his forehead when I got back, and apparently Alex cried even harder at not being able to finish the race. Poor guys. They decided to fake crossing the finish line anyway :)
I promised the boys we would keep training and enter them in other races in the future. Meanwhile they enjoyed the post-race party with pizza, froyo, water ice, Muscle milk and moonbounces.
I don't have the final dollar amount raised, but the race was a huge success. A slideshow of lots more photos can be found here. Thanks to everyone who came out or sponsored or supported us! See you next spring.