Updated: May 14, 2019
I turned 41 and the thing I wanted for my birthday was like most people? I couldn’t wait to run mile Hot Dash race and score some hot dish at the end. Oh yes, you know you’re Minnesotan when your race has hot dish, summit beer and a meat raffle at the finish. Last year, I was just getting my grove into races. I found out about the Hot Dash on my birthday weekend and I wanted more than anything for people to come out and run the race with me. My husband made me a birthday shirt that said, “40 never looked so awesome”. It was beyond cold for March 24th, but I didn’t care. 3 of my friends and I ran that race, and finished a good race with a smile on my face the whole time. Afterwards we had fun and I looked forward to making it a yearly tradition.
My birthday is on March 23rd and this year the race was actually on my birthday. It’s amazing what a year can do to you. While I was 40, I completed 4 marathons, shaved 47 minutes off of my marathon time, and qualified for the Boston Marathon which I never dreamed off. Although that dream was crushed, when I was rejected by 7 seconds, it was an unbelievable feeling for 2 weeks. Everyone of those races I showed up thinking I would never finish, but I finished everyone better than last. Well everyone but 1 race. I’d say that’s pretty good odds. Each race has taught me I am stronger than I think I am. I have faced so many fears this past year and it’s because of the lessons I learned by crossing those finish lines. I have become a stronger, faster runner but also, I have endured a mountain full of health issues that have left doctors guessing and not giving me the time of day. But despite those, it doesn’t stop me, I just keep running. Going into 41, I want to do new races and adventures, but I wanted to retry some of the races I did last year to see if I could improve.
The Hot Dash is my 2nd redo of the year. This year with a new shirt, “41 never looked so fast”. Started out the year with the Polar Dash. The Polar Dash was a challenge race where you run a half marathon, 5k and 1.9 mile. It’s crazy just comparing weather from year to year. The Polar Dash was 45 degrees warmer this year than previously, and I shaved 13 minutes off of my half marathon time. Left with some sore muscles, fatigue but a new love for racing. It was this race that made me realize all the stress and anxiety I’d feel before and during the race, gave me joy and drive for days after to see what I was capable of next. I’m not your typical runner either. I don’t time my runs in practice so I really have no idea how fast I am. When I saw that I averaged a just under 8-minute mile for 13 miles, I couldn’t help but be proud. A year previously, I averaged over a 9-minute mile. Bring on the hot dash and see what I can do there.
This year I was able to run the race with a friend, I met at a previous race. We became friends while waiting for the bathroom before a race. I noticed her Brooks shoes (my favorite), and we started chatting. She was super nervous for her first 10k. Spoke some words for encouragement to her and we embarked on our race. As I reached the finish line, something in me told me to go back. I ran back until I saw Holly, and we finished the race together. She later stalked me on facebook, and we’ve friends every since. This 10-miler was Holly’s first of the distance. What made the race more special was my dad, stepmom, brother, husband and kids came to cheer me on. It meant so much to me to have her run it with me on my birthday and for my family to see me run.
Lining up for the race, my daughter was there greeting me with a birthday hug and her signature line of Don’t give up mom. This has been her thing for everyone of my races, and it sure carries me on every mileage. Many races I wonder how I’m going to get to the finish line, but each time I do, I know it makes my daughter proud of me and help her believe in herself more. I lined up in the front of the pack and took off with huge smile on my face and energy from the crowd. I ran the course last year and remember there were a few hills but my memory must have missed the amplitude of them. The hills were frequent, long, steep and sucked my energy. Just 3 miles in, I didn’t know if I would make it. It was than I realized, I need to step up my hill regimen but it wasn’t going to make a difference at the moment. As I plunged forward with as much stamina as I could, my music goes crazy on my phone. Really? I let it play for a minute but I was like frick I’m going to have to fix it. Just about at the turn around, I fixed the music and bolted off.
Despite how dead I felt, I was actually keeping up a good speed. When I first started racing, I hated down and out courses. Why couldn’t they all be a loop? Now I actually enjoy the out and back courses because I know where I stand in the race and its free scenery to keep my mind busy. Mile 6, I took my energy pack and felt alive until I saw that next hill. Goodness, how could I forget about these? They just kept getting steeper and more draining. I swore to myself I would never walk a hill in a race, but I found myself walking. Not just 1 partial hill but 2. At this point, I was really mad at myself and doubted what I was doing. Why was I letting myself walk and why was I so weak that these hills were killing me? These hills weren’t any different than my practice ones. I pressed on with unknown reason for my energy source, but knowing with 2 miles left and a family waiting for me at the finish, I had no choice at this point. With my last gas, I sprinted up that last little hill to the finish line. I glanced to my left and right to see if I could find my family and there they were with signs and cheers. As I approached the finish with my birthday shirt on, I screamed, “41 baby! Whoo hoo!”. Looked at the time and noticed my time was 13 minutes faster than last year. In addition, I ran a 13 second faster miler than 1 week prior.
I was greeted at the end by my family, lots of hugs and tears from my dad. My dad use to watch me in high school, but he hasn’t seen me race since. He was so proud to see where I came from. Sometimes it takes family to realize your success. I was happy with my time but there is always room for growth and progress. The important thing is not giving up or stop believing in yourself. Every race I do, I think I can’t do it. I feel weak, uncapable and over all drained. A strong demeaner and perseverance pushes me to that finish line. It’s just like life don’t you think. We feel weak, drained, unworthy, and uncapable to meet the tasks before us. But we take a deep breath, and put that foot in front of the other and thrive. My first race as being 41, was a great accomplishment for me. In addition, I get to toast my birthday with some MN hot dish and a good old-fashioned meat raffle. I mean, what could be better? Well if I would have won that would have been better but that’s okay. I left proud of myself but also eagering for more improvement. Enjoy the good races and applaud yourself for a job well done and remember these moments. There are going to be races ahead that you aren’t so proud of. We all have good and bad days but the important thing is we keep showing up!
Life is one big race! You got this!
Hot Dash 2018: 1:31:12
Hot Dash 2019: 1:18:12