Apparently the luck of the Irish is strong with me, because my running pursuits have now resulted in me “Getting Lucky” twice just this month! Although most cultural traces of my Irish identity have been absorbed by my now White identity, I still have a soft spot in my heart for Ireland, and hope to one day trace my ancestry through the rolling hills of the beautiful Irish countryside. Until I’m able to book my trip to Dublin, I’ll have to settle for running and beer, which both have a long and storied history in Ireland!
After “getting lucky” and setting a PR at the Little Rock Marathon a few weeks back, I was excited to head up to Minneapolis for the Get Lucky 7K. I’ve run numerous Team Ortho races in the past, and completing the full “Monster Series” was a fantastic experience, so I knew the Get Lucky race would be no exception. However, this race had the added significance of being the first 7K race for the beautiful epicurean!
After being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, she has embarked on an incredible journey of personal experience and life adjustment. We’ve made significant and delicious changes to our diet, and found ourselves that much more committed to a healthy lifestyle on all fronts. You can read about her journey in more detail at What If…? Gourmet. After previous attempts at running, she decided to once again try to start running at the beginning of this year. Since January 1st, I’ve had the pleasure of watching her steadily increase her distances and decrease per pace, and more importantly, fall in love with running 🙂
Now, I know I haven’t been running all that long myself in the grand scheme of things. I think it can be easy to forget the basic joys and motivations of running when you are caught up in the details of training and preparation for the next race. Ok, at least that’s the case for me. However, for the past two and a half months, I’ve gotten to watch the beautiful epicurean return home from run after run, each time more happy than the last. Sometimes its beautiful outside, sometimes its dreary or snowy or dark, and sometimes her body feels great and other times her legs feel like lead weights. Throughout it all though, is the glint in her eyes that comes with something new and exciting. The glint of joy and personal accomplishment is unmistakable and its an absolutely beautiful and breathtaking sight.
We took that motivation and energy up to Minneapolis, excited to toe the line for her first 7K. We left in plenty of time, but ran into some traffic as we got closer to the starting line. I was worried that we’d be late for the start, so she got out of the car and headed for the start while I parked the car. I got the car into the ramp and sprinted for the starting line. Luckily, the reality of 10,000 + runners meant they were releasing people in waves, so I had plenty of time to find her among the crowd. We ended up waiting about 45 minutes before we crossed the timing pad, and we were off!
I ran with her for about the first mile. The crowd had separated, and we were moving along really well. She was looking and feeling strong, and it was such a wonderful experience to be running alongside her during a race! After that, she turned me loose and I headed on ahead. I was determined to push myself hard enough to make it to the finish line with plenty of time to get situated so I could get a picture of her crossing the finish line. The roads were a lovely combination of ice and slush after some rather cold weather (surprise, right?!?), so I minded my footing but pushed myself in the cold air (about 22 at the start).
I crossed the finish line and was able to step off to the side and work my way into position for a perfect view. I knew she was feeling good on race morning, and she had a great final training run a few days prior, so I knew she was going to have a great race. However, she still surprised me with her pace and energy! She was all smiles at the end of the race, just like every other run, and the mark had been set. We walked up the path, through the crowd, and claimed our medals together, passing by the frozen cups of water (Mother Nature’s way of encouraging us to drink more coffee!), and headed for the car.
I’ve had the post-race conversation with countless friends in the past, recounting the details of the race and recapping how well we thought the race went. However, this was the first post-race conversation I’ve had with my partner, so it held so much more meaning. She has been such an incredible support structure for me through all of my training and races, and the opportunity to now return the favor is quite gratifying. I have no doubt that we have many miles and races ahead of us, and I couldn’t be more proud or more excited to be able to run them together!