10: Kilometers I will run this morning in the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) 10K
9: Months since I surprised myself by running the Boston Women’s 10K much faster than I’d thought possible.
6: Weeks I intended to devote to a 10k training plan in an attempt to top that performance…until I fell while running in the desert, dinging up both knees. I’m not very tall, but rocks are hard.
5: feet, two inches, my height.
2: hours to go until the start to today’s race. As usual, I’m nervous and questioning why I do this. Why I try to get faster. Why I get out of bed at 5 a.m. on a Sunday to run instead of, oh, paint, ice skate, dance, play soccer. Or sleep.
1000: bib number assigned to me for the BAA 10k, a reminder of how lucky I am to be running at all. Every run, no matter how fast or slow, whether among thousands or alone, is a gift.
1: Horn on a unicorn, the symbol for the BAA since 1887, the mythical creature representing “rare.”
[Action sequence: walk to the T, train to Boston Common, warm up, pee, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate]
Milling about the massive pre-race extravaganza overflowing the west end of Boston Common, noting bib numbers high into the thousands –5725; 8432; 9550 – I did feel a bit rare. “Great number!” one voice called to me as I tried to find my way into the start corral, quarter mile long and crammed with runners. It was a nice ping to match my inner glow while I was busy being one of the millions, nothing special.
The elite runners up front – now, they are special. The moment I crossed the starting line, the announcer came on to say the front women (including three of my favorites, Helen Obiri, Molly Siedel and Emily Sisson) were passing Mile 1 at 4 minutes 50 seconds. That’s special.
I started this race with no plan, which is dangerous because around inevitably nasty Mile 4, it’s tempting to revise the plan to Finish and Have Fun. But around that difficult point, I came up with a better idea: finish in the top 1,000!
Oddly, that motivated me to keep my pace. I did not want to be Number 1000 coming in 1,001th place. Then again, to come in 1000th – how perfect would that be?
In the end, lucky number finished 825th.
It’s possible to be nothing special and to still feel lucky.