I'll never forget the looks of horror on my husband's and children's faces. As we made eye contact, my husband quickly tried to replace his expression of shock with a well-intentioned smile, nodding his head to encourage me. My children, on the other hand, had no such scruples and just stared, slack-jawed and squinting, as if to see if I was really the Mom they knew.
It was the home stretch of my first (and so far only) 5K, and they were waiting to cheer me on. I've always been an absolute, bona fide non-runner, but I'd trained for this first race for months. My only goal: Don't walk.
I accomplished that goal, but it was a lot harder than I thought. I had a side cramp within minutes, and my years' absent asthma showed up shortly after that. I was being passed by both 7-year-olds and 70-year-olds, and my legs felt like plodding stumps of lead. So when my family finally saw me, instead of the triumphant finish-line scene they might have expected, I was red-faced (read: tomato-colored) with accompanying splotches all over my arms and legs. I was sweating profusely, jogging jiltingly, and probably drooling too.
As I lurched over the finish line, I was bone-tired . . . and I was thirsty.
I guzzled water. I dumped it on my head. I drenched my clothes. Then I drank some more. Ever been there? We've all had moments in our lives when we were physically desperate for hydration—when we long for the refreshment and revitalization that only cool, clean water can provide. We know we can't go on without it.1