Friday we left Cairo to begin the long trek up to Henry County at about 5:00pm. We decided to just wait until Perry to stop for dinner, which was a good decision, because then we got to see husband's mother and sister. We ate dinner at Chick-fil-a and it was actually mother-son night there, so that was pretty fitting. Timothy asked me if I was sure I wanted Chick-fil-a for my birthday dinner and I told him it was either that or Taco Bell, and for most involved, Chick-fil-a is a much better choice. He definitely agreed. :) After eating, we continued the drive up to Henry County and got there at about 9:00pm. My parents let me open up one of my presents that night. They got me some pretty pillows I had been wanting for my bed and some cute new rainboots! I had a pair of polka dot ones in college that I wore a lot and they eventually got a hole in them, which kind of negates the purpose of rain boots. Can't wait until it rains and I have an excuse to wear these. I'm actually tempted to just put them on and splash around on the top step of my pool. Aren't they cute?!
We met my sister and her family at the school and changed into our race shirts. We wore these shirts in honor of Dimitri A. del Castillo who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 25, 2011. Dmitri was only a year older than me and had been married to a fellow soldier, Katie, for just a few months when he was killed in action. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. My sister works with his mother-in-law, Patty, who let us borrow some shirts so that we would be able to honor his memory in even this small way. My prayers go out to his family, as do my thanks to Dimitri and his wife for fighting for my freedom.
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful, just filled with me trying to keep up with my mom and convincing myself not to stop running. Oh, and my mom running beside me being really quiet. For those of you have encountered my mom at my past basketball and volleyball games, or really just any sporting event at all, you know she is a pretty vocal supporter of her children. I could pick her out in the crowd while I was playing because she was always yelling encouragement and cheering me on. I definitely appreciated that, and tried to never take her support for granted, because I had several fellow teammates who would have loved for their parents to be there supporting them like mine was. When we decided to do this race together, I just assumed that she'd want to talk a little during the run or at least just share some encouraging phrases to each other along the way like "you got this!" "run girl run" or "you better not walk". But nope, just breathing. We were so focused on controlling our breathing and finishing the race without walking that we were practically silent the whole time. Well, she was. I complained a few times.
So anyways, the last long stretch was down a field, so me and my mom gave it one final push, and sprinted (probably just a "run" to some people, but at that point I felt like I was about to win the gold medal with my sprint). There were students lined up at the finish line cheering us on, which was really sweet. I finished in 36:12, and my mom was right behind me at 36:17. I was a little bummed that I didn't beat my personal record (33:03), but I just had to tell myself that last time I had been training for a lot longer, so I couldn't be too hard on myself.
After the race:
I'm so glad we all got to do this together as a family, and I think we all agreed that we will be doing another one again soon. Some things I enjoyed about this race: 1. The student involvement, from signing people in, to cheering us on at the finish line was really nice to see, 2. The weather was great! I was a little chilled at the beginning, but felt good throughout the race. I didn't even sweat that much. 3. The race was not too crowded and the other runners were courteous and funny. Several people asked us about our shirts, and it was nice being able to share Dimitri's story. 4. There were several Army recruiters at the race, and they donated a bunch of stuff for our goodie bags. The shirts were awesome too! I loved that they were maroon, not white like most race shirts. My mom mentioned that I should get my fellow classmates to agree to run the race with me every year, as a tradition. I think that's a wonderful idea to keep us in shape, and help support our alma mater. So what do my fellow Luellans think? Will ya'll join me next year?!