Since the beginning, like way back to the fall of 2014, I have participated in the Rook Run. This run holds a special place in my heart for many, many reasons.
First, Rook Coffee partners with the Valerie Fund to raise money to support children with cancer and blood disorders. Ugh, that right there is a huge reason to get out and raise awareness. Over the past three years, The Rook Run has grown in numbers from 1,000 participants to over 3,000 and raising nearly half a million dollars for the children of The Valerie Fund. HOW STINKING AMAZING IS THAT?!?!?! Secondly, The Rook Run was one of my first 5k’s to take part in, in which I didn’t consider myself a runner. It was just something a bunch of us decided to join in on to help a friend start and team and raise money. Like a finish time of 28 minutes ((which sounds crazy, I know, but thinking of what I have done since then, it makes more sense)), and a lot of I think I am going to throw up, who does this for fun, I am going to die ridiculous thoughts. Anyways, enough rambling on year one. Another reason I hold this race so near and dear to my heart is that it holds my pre-baby 5k RACE PR. From the girl above to the crazy lady who thought training for a marathon would be cool, I started to become “good” at this running thing.
I had spent the summer of 2015 busting my butt training for my first marathon. With that consistency and insane hours spent running, I started to build up some serious speed. And I loved the first Rook Run so much, I decided it was worth the 1 1/2 hour trip back. Such a fun time. And at that moment, I would say it was the BEST Rook Run ever. I pushed myself to the point of dry heaving after the finish, unable to smile through the finish line. I wanted it so bad. It didn’t give me the PR or pace I was able to do on training runs, but it still felt amazing to shave 4 minutes off my time. That’s like a minute per mile and then some, so awesome. I finished in 24 minutes, brining me into the top ten of my age group. I was disappointed after this race too, because I didn’t get the 23 minute time I knew I could do, and I worked so hard for the 24 minutes it was disheartening. BUT then it was brought to my attention how much I earned that in comparison to the year before and I was so proud of myself. I never wanted to be a runner, or ever even liked running. In soccer, I would whine and complain about our runs at practice. It wasn’t my thing. But that year of marathon training changed me, inside and out, and The Rook Run was a huge part of that.
Enter the third annual Rook Run, and just another reason why this race has my heart. It was my FIRST stroller race with my little best friend, at just three months postpartum. It was my slowest Rook Run to date at a whopping 31 minutes. BUT, I made the mistake every stroller runner makes at their first race, and started in the back of 3,000 people. It took me the entire first mile just to make it out of the crowd. None of that mattered though. I could not wipe the smile off my face. This run was EVERYTHING! It made me more than just a runner, it made me a mother runner. A MOTHER FREAKING RUNNER, y’all. And I’ll never be the same. This race was the start to many, many stroller races with my boy. We make a pretty great team, too. We’ve won some age groups, including first place, and if there was a stroller division, we would have taken them all. We’ve experienced mommy’s first DNF because he just wasn’t feeling it, and we’ve conquered many, many miles together. In fact, most of my miles accrued this year have been with him in tow. It is my favorite thing to do and something I look forward to continuing.
And last but not least, the FINAL reason as to why The Rook Run is my favorite. This year, I wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. My postpartum comeback has been nothing short of a hard, harder, and hardest rollercoaster ride I’ve ever experienced. I struggled in the beginning, totally expected. I started to get back to myself, only to be sidelined by mole procedures that left me with some nasty stitches that lead to a staph infection. Then on my comeback round two, with marathon training, I hit the biggest road block of my life. I was diagnosed with Graves Disease and the affect on my physical stamina was detrimental. Like everything seemed impossible and it broke me down, so far down that I didn’t think I’d get myself out of it. But I am a pretty stubborn lady and I fought hard to find answers for myself and did a lot of research after months of no getting better, and here I am today. Feeling almost 100% back to myself and yet again, making my comeback. Okay, so that was a lot, and really didn’t explain why or how this is the final reason I LOVE THE ROOK RUN. But here it is….
Little man and I, despite some seriously nasty weather on the way down to the shore and an unsure mommy on whether or not we should race, achieved our 5k Stroller PR. FINALLY!! I didn’t think we’d do it, because the race is such a confined space with 3,000 people, and stroller running in crowds is insane, but we did it. I was the first female stroller runner and second stroller runner to cross the line finish line, and I AM so stinking happy. The crazy rain and storms that went on all morning long brought about an intense level of humidity that was messing with me ((mostly all in my head, but it was there and creepin and I wanted to punch it in the face)). But I fought through, literally sprinting through breaks in people, to get myself to the top, and when I finished, Clayton was asleep. I couldn’t help but laugh, because I was talking to him and cheering saying, “we did it, buddy, we beat our 5k time!” And he was out. EEEEKKKKK, I am still beaming with pride and joy of the things we have accomplished together in the last year. All starting here, at The Rook Run together, and bringing it all back full circle to snag that pretty PR. I can’t imagine running, and racing without him. We are a team, a darn cute one, too (I am talking about him here). And I cannot thank him enough for making the runner I am today. He is my pride and joy, and sharing this love with him makes my heart go round.
THANK YOU to The Rook Run for four years of amazingness and truly memorable moments of my life. Thank you to the staff and volunteers for a darn good race. Thank you to my friends for making the trek with me every year to run for 20 minutes. Thank you to those who actually read this all the way to the end. Next up for little man and I is a Christmas 5 miler. I am already scheming costume ideas. ❤