Sunday, June 26, 2011

Impossible Is Nothing - St. Peter's Fiesta 5K, Gloucester, Mass.

            Impossible Is Nothing Part 2: St. Peter's Fiesta 5K  by Christopher Setterlund

     For my second 5K in my racing career I decided to take a trip to my favorite town, Gloucester.  Getting the chance to continue my running adventure in the place that I have enjoyed more than any other thus far made it an opportunity I could not pass up.  My first race was for CapeAbilities, this one was for the North Shore YMCA.  The fact that the St. Peter’s Fiesta was going on at the same time only made it more appealing for me.  I had been asked to cover the yearly festival last year but was unable to find the time on short notice.  This year I had at least one day to check it out.
            Unfortunately the weather was overcast and rainy for the race day which made exploring the Fiesta not as appealing.  I did get to see a lot of rides and food booths when I visited the starting line some four hours before race time.  The food was tempting but I know now what I can and cannot eat before a race and that included pretty much everything the carnival atmosphere offered.  I was able to fully enjoy the afternoon in Gloucester despite the weather by visiting a few of my favorite spots.  They include The Man at the Wheel, Stage Fort Park, Hammond Castle, and Eastern Point Light, but those can be found in my In My Footsteps articles featuring Gloucester.
This became more than just another run for me as the time went on.  I had to face my own demons about whether it might be my last race already thanks to a few nagging injuries.  I had begun running in the end of March and had taken to it much better than I had expected.  My mileage continued to increase but I kept in mind that I only needed to be able to do about 5-6 miles to complete a 5K which is 3.1 miles.  That kept my head in the game as far as training went. 
This time I became much more cavalier about how I trained as the runner’s high seemed to be calling the shots.  I went from a high of 7 miles at the time of the first 5K May 14th to a high of 13.1(half marathon distance) on June 1st.  That rapid increase in distance, coupled with not giving myself enough time to recover, and a lack of leg training made my legs feel weak and tired all the time.  My runs became more labored but I did not want to turn back after making it so far so I kept these problems to myself.
I had and still have some pain today in my left knee and right Achilles tendon but this became more than just a 5K for me because of my mother.  She fought so hard to quit smoking and wanted to be a part of the running ‘tradition’ that our family has been starting to build.  She got hurt and has had to be sidelined since and I wanted to make sure that I at least made this race to honor her for what she has done and is doing.
As the day of the race arrived I had this feeling in my gut that maybe it was going to be my final race.  I felt like maybe the injuries I had were going to break me as I ran and it was going to be too much.  I made sure as I stretched feverishly in the drizzle near the starting line that I made a note of where the First Aid station was just in case.  I stood by myself and soaked in the scene, wanting to remember as many faces and events if this was to be my last real run of my burgeoning career.
I made the mistake of soaking in too much of the atmosphere when the race began as I started not on the road but against an iron fence behind several walkers, strollers, and slow people.  Not a good start as I had to dodge up onto the sidewalk to avoid them.  I began my run with my usual song, ‘The Game’ which is the entrance music for WWE wrestler Triple-H, it always gets me pumped.  I admit that I held back some, fearing a tear in my Achilles or a knee ligament, plus the rain began falling too and the course had a few good hills.  I was prepared to have a slower time than the 24:28 I did in my initial run for CapeAbilities. 
The run was awesome, the scenery was amazing despite the rain.  Gloucester is a place I could visit every weekend if I possibly could, so getting to run there was an experience all its own.  I started to sense the end coming and pushed as best I could.  I put on ‘Cowboys From Hell’ by Pantera, a song used by my running mentor to get her going, it was as if suddenly she was pushing me toward the Finish Line, the pain and soreness in my legs vanished and I let it all hang out.  Once I saw the official time in the distance I knew that I had beaten my first race time by nearly two whole minutes and my legs after running, while still hurting, would heal if I gave them time and my running career would continue.
In the end my belief in myself was tested but I came out a bigger believer after.  My confidence was shaken but my resolve to never quit, to show everyone that my running career is not a fad, helped push me through.  Finally, I may have been alone up in Gloucester but I was buoyed by the knowledge that I had the support of so many friends and loved ones.  I wanted to make them all proud and I believe I did.  This is not the end, but only the beginning!  Cheers!