Sunday before last, Amira and I were down to the last stretch of the 5K. The course had been split up into 2 laps. The first lap, Amira and I stretched out and ran a good chunk of it. I felt pretty good. I had been afraid of letting her down. Or worse, I was afraid I would embarrass her. But, here we were, on our first 2.5K lap and we weren’t being passed by everyone and we were even passing some. I was feeling deep relief.
But the second lap, the second 1/2 of the course, while my lungs and muscles were feeling good… my feet, oh my feet. Somewhere along the path, the balls of my feet and the middle 3 toes on each foot began to ache. Each foot fall felt horrible. We walked most of the second lap. I was disappointed because… on one hand, I felt encouraged that my training had brought my physical fitness to a level that I felt pretty capable. I was far from front-of-the-pack, but I was feeling like solid middle-of-the-pack material. Except.
Amira had more energy in her to give – but I wasn’t pushing her to give it her all because of my feet. Walking felt miserable and jogging was excruciating on my poor feet. We stuck with moving forward with momentum. We stretched our legs out long. We were feeling splashes of cool coastal breezes that relieved us of the warming morning sun’s beat on our bodies. We were sticking with it, even without running more than a short spurt here and there.
And finally, we hit that last stretch. There were more cheerleaders on the sidelines. They were encouraging, telling that we were almost there. There was music, although I couldn’t tell you what song it was. That blast of energy filled Amira up and she was ready to sprint for the finish line. I felt that energy blast too. My heart was swelling with pride for Amira and the fact that she was going to complete this 5K. She had set out a goal for herself and she was going to do it. She looked at me with bright eyes: “Let’s go, Mom!” My feet didn’t scream so much as threaten to die. It wasn’t a sharp pain. It was more of a deep pain that said they weren’t going to work anymore. I projected the energy I felt about being so close to the finish line, and seeing Amira’s excitement into cheering her to the finish line. I said: “Go for it, baby! Run for the finish! You’ve got this!” And she, with her enthusiasm and momentum pulling her foreward… reversed direction enough to reach my hand and say: “No, Mom, I’m not going without you. Come on!”
My feet hurt so bad — but those last 200 feet between me and the finish line. I don’t really remember the pain. I mean, I do. I remember it hurt. What I remember more is Amira’s hand holding mine. She held it firmly. She pulled me toward the finish line and I picked up my pace. I thought I might actually fall or misstep because the pain was deep and numbing. (It’s hard to explain how something feels like it hurts so bad that you can’t feel it anymore.) Then we saw Paul, who cheered us through our final steps. It took us 48:45. That second 2.5K really slowed us down. I really slowed us down. But regardless, at the finish line… both Amira and I had teary eyes. We were emotional. We had done it… and most importantly, together.