Smartmom ran in a 10-mile race around Prospect Park yesterday and none of her old "friends" were there to cheer. That was a good thing. The Judge, Ms. Measurement, Woulda Coulda Shoulda and Fun House Mirror were nowhere in site, which meant that there was no one around to question why she was doing this, or compare her to the other runners. No one to say, you shoulda run faster, you coulda done better or anyone to make her feel fat and lumpy.
Smartmom ran friendless and strong, feeling the power of her body pushing against the frigid winds. She knew she was in good form as soon as the race began at 10 a.m. Except for the bone chilling temperatures it was a wonderful day for a race. The cold was a non-issue almost immediately. When Smartmom passed the lake on the south-west side of the park she was already feeling sweaty and overdressed in her two jackets, two shirts, her head mask, hat, and gloves.
Staying in the back of the pack, Smartmom's strategy was to run at a slow, comfortable speed for the first two laps and then speed up on the third. Coach Cane advised the group to "run your own race and run slow." He reminded them that this was a practice race in preparation for the Half-Marathon on March 19th.
Smartmom took his words to heart and recited them to herself like a mantra. She ran mostly alone except for a brief conversation with a lovely French man in a red running suit at the end of the second lap. They spoke again near the end of the third lap.
As luck would have it, Hepcat, Teen Spirit, and OSFO were cheering as she finished the second of three laps around the park. And that gave Smartmom quite a boost. She was high from it for most of her third lap. And when she saw Real Fruit Jelly standing alone at Third Street less than a mile away from the finish, Smartmom's heart leapt again. Energy surged through her as she waved to her smiling friend.
Just up the road from Real Fruit Jelly, Smartmom saw Hepcat, OSFO and Teen Spirit. They had whines on their faces from waiting around in the cold. Smartmom even heard OSFO cry, "I'm cold, I want to go home now." Smartmom felt herself transition from 10-mile runner to mom. But she caught herself and screamed, "I can't be anyone's mother right now," and sped onward.
Near the finish, an obnoxious guy with a megaphone blared to Smartmom, "Take him on. You can beat him," he said referring to the Frenchmen in red. Smartmom decided to give it a go and she sprinted him to the finish and beat him. As she passed she said, "Sorry. It was nice running with you." They shook hands after the race.
There were no cups for water at the water table. So Smartmom opened one of the Poland Spring Water jugs and drank to her heart's content. The end of the race was a little anti-climactic. It was hard to believe she had just done what she did. But boy did it feel GREAT.