Yesterday, Gayle (gdeann) and I ran our third organized 5K since graduation. This was our third in only four weeks. I woke in the morning and as my eyes slowly opened to the day I heard the most frightening sound that a runner in Kansas, USA can ever hear!! It wasn't screeching brakes of a car that is about to hit you, it wasn't even the sound of sirens as an ambulance comes to pick you up after an especially hard run, (a thought that we have both feared since W1R1) but something even worse. WIND. Not just any wind mind you, but the kind of WIND only before experienced by the likes of Dorothy and her little dog Toto!! Gayle was soon awake also and I greated her with a soft, "shhhhhhhh, listen." As the wraith of Mother Nature hit her ears she instantly began to swear and question why we ever even considered this running game.
As the day went on I began to form the story for this very blog which I am now typing. I thought that after we were finished I would post something with a witty title along the lines of "Has anyone seen Gayle?" and then continue on with a story about how windy it was. I would move on saying that at some point my lovely Gayle blew away and that she would soon be arriving on your "side of the pond." I was even considering offering to send you the money to package her up and send her back to me!! But alas, I had to forfeit those well-layed plans for something different...the truth.
Now, the parts about the wind and Gayle swearing for the most part is true!! She did wander through the house all day muttering, "dumb, stupid, crazy people," refering to us and the thought of us running. The day passed on and the time came for our run. The wind continued to howl and quickly the gremlins came after us. You see, we knew the route of this run and had even attempted it a couple of times during the week. It was easily the most difficult course we had ever set foot on. It appeared to be uphill the whole way and occassionally, just for fun, they threw in a HUGE hill!!! We worried that with the wind and the difficulty of the route, we would be soon be handed the brutal reality that we weren't the runners that we had hoped we had become.
With one last, "I love you and it's been nice knowing you," (Our customary words when parting for a run in case we die along the way!! ) the horn sounded and off we went. It was hard. It was the hardest run I have ever put my feet to. The tight tights-clad young ladies were even beyond my concentration as I struggled against the wind and hills. Ok, maybe that isn't completely true. My first mile was around a 8:15 pace. The tights had done it to me again. I was running too fast and again, just as in my first organized run, I had to slow only to watch them prance off without me.
On I plodded, trudging up the hills and struggling, asking myself why I was trying to do this at my age. Almost two miles into the run, I ran by my own home. Yes, we paid $25 each to run on public streets in front of our home...a place we can run everyday for free. Our daughter, brother-in-law and sister were standing there cheering, so on I went. I continued to plod and finally, I was able to reach the end of the run. As I crossed the line, I clicked my Garmin off and heard something that I had never expected..."Twenty nine, eighteen." HUH??? WHAT??? I checked my Garmin and confirmed it...a personal best. I don't know how, but I did it. After a short bit of congratulations from my daughter, sister and brother-in-law (they had driven to the end after cheering at our house) I turned around and returned to the course to again finish with Gayle.
Not far back, I found her and turned to run to the finish with her. I will allow her to share with you how her run went, but suffice it to say, I was not the only one with a personal best yesterday. We stayed around for medals to be given. I smile as I now type that I recieved a third place medal in my age division for my run. Gayle, well let's just say that she brought home some hardware for the trophy case also and hers was of a metal that is far more valuable than bronze!!
It is with more pride than I can even say and a bit of a tear in my eye that I now tell you how incredibly proud of her I am. This run was a struggle. It was a run that she easily could have quit on and I wouldn't have blamed her, but she didn't. She made it and she made me proud.
Now, as I close I again ask "Has Anyone Seen Gayle?" Not because the wind blew her away, but because in the last 4 months she has changed so much that I barely recognize her. Her ability, her fitness, her body, her confidence, her determination...all have made me proud to call her my friend, my running partner and most of all...My Wife and Love of My Life. I Love You, Sweetheart!!