Well, I’m done with the 5K training, at least until my lower body returns to normal. Last night was the run. I did it in 33:35, placing 373rd out of 618 female runners. My overall ranking, if I’ve done my math correctly, was 841 out of 1186 total runners.

Translation: I did OK….. for a girl.

The run itself didn’t *seem* as long as the one I’d done in May. I just didn’t think that one would EVER end, but last night, I was surprised to see the finish line as soon as I did. I even had a little energy left to speed up at the end. Go figure.

This was a freakin’ MOB compared to my previous race, which only had a little over 300 entrants. There were so many people in this one that I couldn’t even run initially. The horn sounded, and I took off at a fast….no, slow….jog…..no….um, make that a walk. People were eager to get going, and I felt the crowd pushing behind me. One woman about 10 feet to my right tripped over a rug in the road that had been placed to cover cables leading to the stage. I saw her land on all fours. I only got a glimpse of her beginning to get upright again before the crowd hid her from view. Geesh, I hope she didn’t get hurt.

After a couple minutes, it thinned out enough around me so that I had my own space and could set my own pace, so I started my fabulous Shuffle, which was set to begin with my all-time favorite running song — the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Higher Ground.” But even their pacing was too slow! Ya gotta love race adrenaline, huh?

So I ran at a faster pace than my first few songs, but not long after that, I was able to fall into my planned stride. Good. I’d designed the playlist to help ensure I wouldn’t run out of steam before the end.

There was never a moment during this run that there weren’t a lot of people around me. Some people passed me, but some people I passed. More folks stopped to walk than I’d noticed in the other 5K. There were two buff-looking military types ahead of me who were running together at my pace. Why in the world would they be going so slow? Hmmmm. Maybe they were saving themselves to sprint at the end. One sweaty athletic-looking man passed me going uphill, grunting hard and struggling to push his son in a baby carriage. The boy, who looked to be about 3 or 4, kept turning in his seat, laughing as he watched all the runners around him. The kid was obviously in heaven. He caught my eye for a second….was he laughing at me because his dad was kicking my ass, or was he just happy to be in the midst of it all?

I wasn’t expecting the traffic jam at the first water station. I wasn’t even expecting a water station….I thought maybe someone else had fallen and people were stopping to help. At one point, I admit that I had to walk for a bit. I think it was only 30-45 seconds, though. It was near the apex of a loooonnnnng gently-sloping hill.

I missed the time-shouter-person who must’ve been at the mile one mark, so I don’t know how my time was that first mile, but at mile two, a man shouted “21:10!” as I passed. Cool, better than the other 5K! I concentrated on keeping my strides long and perky. I think that previously, my end-time suffered because my strides grew shorter the longer I ran.

Running that last mile was tough. Humidity was high, so, even though I didn’t have any trouble breathing as some of my group buds later said, I was sweating like a ….. hmmmm, a cub scout at Neverland. Ugh. Yuk. I really need to find some sort of small clippable towel that I can attach to myself while running.

I daydreamed about running on the beach, and tried to imagine the sea breezes. It helped that the street lights cast shadows of me as I ran, reminding me of watching my shadow on the sand as I ran with the sun at my back. I lapsed into “I’m-a-machine” mode, and tried to hypnotize myself with the music, my breath, my pace. I must’ve been breathing like an emphysema patient — as I approached one man who’d paused to walk with his female run buddy, he turned to look at me over his shoulder. And……offered me his bottled water. Ha!! I smiled at him and declined, laughing to myself after I’d passed. Good lord! What in the world had he seen — and heard — coming toward him? Something upon which he obviously took pity.

And y’know what? At the finish line, I forgot to look at the clock! I had no idea how I did until shortly after 2am this morning when the preliminary results were posted on the race website.

And why, you ask, was I awake at 2am? Auuuuuuughhh! My lower body is TORE UP.

I am not a smart woman, y’all. If I were, I’d listen to my chiropractor, my orthopedist, and my own body — all of which tell me pretty emphatically, “Good freaking holy giant God, woman — take up another sport! You are not built for this high-impact INSANITY. You are going to permanently hurt yourself.”

Instead, I’m thinking about doing the Spinx 5K in October. Just to see how close I can get to 30 minutes.

My justification goes something like this (courtesy of Jack London in Jack London’s Tales of Adventure):

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

Today, though, I’m going to stifle myself into dry-rothood right in front of my TV, flat on my back with my legs in the air. I’ll be a meteor tomorrow.