Well, I ran my 5K on Saturday morning and kicked some sweet potato butt. Thank you new sneakers!
I had the fastest pace since I started training. And there wasn’t just one monster hill (a valley, actually…I’ll explain in a minute) but a second one near the end. I was definitely a Crazy Sweet Potato Fries Talking Mama, but it really wasn’t necessary.
You see, I ran the race along side hundreds of fire fighters, police officers, and first responders in full gear – tanks, masks, helmets, coats, boots and more – in honor of the first responders who perished on September 11, 2001. It was the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Run. On September 11th, Siller, a New York City fire fighter, ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel with 60 pounds of gear on his back to get to the World Trade Center where he lost his life saving others.
Yeah, compared to that, the hills were no big deal.
As the anniversary of September 11th approaches each year, I usually I get an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. But this year’s been different. Maybe it’s because I’m busy with the boys or because the Presidential election monopolizes the news. Or maybe it’s because eleven years is enough time to finally take the sting out of the wound.
When I signed up for the 5K , I knew it was in honor of September 11th, but I was so focused on the physical training that I didn’t think about what the race would look or feel like. Well, at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, when I emerged from the parking garage in downtown Fort Lauderdale and witnessed all of this…
…I was overcome with emotion. Mike, who was home with the boys, called at about 7:20 a.m. to wish me luck and all I could do was cry. I was a hot sweet potato mess, but I pulled myself together and managed to snap a self-portrait to mark the occasion before the race began.
As if the race weren’t special enough, the city gave permission for the course to actually go through the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel (most downtown Fort Lauderdale 5Ks bypass the tunnel because they can’t get the permit to go through it). This is the valley I mentioned earlier. The hard part about the infamous hill is that the downhill part comes first. I was concerned about my endurance until I noticed who was running in front, along side and behind me.
Yeah, no big deal. In fact, running down into the tunnel was exhilarating. Everyone yelled and cheered the whole way through, and even though running up and out was hard…
(not steep, but long)
…It. Was. Incredible.
After I conquered the tunnel, the wave of emotions and tears began to recede, and by the end of the race (and a surprise second hill!), I was tired, but inspired and proud. I didn’t get sucked into a sinkhole for buying a new pair of shoes before I finished the race (the sneakers rocked, by the way), I spent the afternoon at a birthday party, and that evening, I ate sushi instead of sweet potato fries, but the sentiment was the same.
Today, I had a dentist appointment where I had yet another awkward opportunity to stare at this framed picture of the World Trade Center on the wall while the hygienist scraped my teeth.
Tomorrow, if MSNBC airs the “Today” show footage from September 11, 2001, I’ll turn the channel because it’s too hard to watch. I’ll attend a PTO meeting at Dylan’s school, pack up organic fruits and vegetables at Riley’s school, go for a run, and be grateful for one more year (maybe) where the boys are too young to ask questions about that remarkably sunny September morning. For dinner, I’ll make homemade roasted sweet potato wedges because, if September 11th has taught me anything, it’s that hills are no big deal and Life. Is. Sweet.