Winter Chill

I will run a race in an hour and 45 minutes, and I’m nervous.

My hand has a little jitter to it. My mind is doing things like “This is the last bite I’ll take before I race. This is the last time I’ll put on socks.” Even my bowels are into it, getting all tight and then letting go (thank God—I don’t want to tote that around with me through 3.1 miles.)

“It’s just a 5K!” my co-worker said on Friday when I told him what I was up to for the weekend and that I was nervous. “Are you a serious runner or something?”

No, I’m not serious, serious. As in, I’m not going to win this race or even come close. As in, I ran one season of high school cross country, didn’t compete in college, and spent the next 20 years running, running, running—but alone and untimed.

Still, clearly, as you can see from my jitters, there is something in it for me. I’m running today to try to figure out what.

I’m running a 5K race every Sunday at 11 a.m. through the month of January, in a race series called Winter Chill. My boyfriend, Bill, is part of the club that organizes it. As soon as he mentioned the series to me, I had to run them.

Today is the last race. I was scared before the first race, even more scared before the second and third, and now I’m scared again. I’m writing this now, at 9:20 a.m., to capture this thing. Like any hard thing, there is only one route from “before” to “after,” and that is through.

By 1 p.m. I will have traversed something: I will have raced.