Well, I did it. In June, if you’d suggested that I run a half marathon this fall, I would have laughed in your face. No laughter now! I ran 13.1 miles on Sunday in snow, over ice, and despite nearly choking at a water stop and getting a terrible side stitch (how do you avoid those anyway?).
I must admit, the whole thing was more difficult than I had anticipated. I was– and still am– happy and confident in the way my training prepared me. The race itself, though, felt looooooong and much different than my long training runs. Fitness-wise, I was just fine, but mentally, I had a hard time propelling myself. My running partner and I got separated early on, just when I decided to inhale my dixie cup of ice water instead of send it down the right tubes. It took a little bit of walking and a lot of slow, cough-ridden jogging to recover from that, only to develop a stitch that felt more like a dagger than a needle on the right side of my diaphragm, forcing me to walk some more. At this point, I was getting passed by old ladies and feeling downright dismal about my prospects of finishing in a respectable amount of time. Finally, though, the stitch passed and I hit the halfway, found my groove and a second wind. A few minutes later, I heard my name out of the crowd of runners, and found a new friend from church right behind me! We kept together for nearly the rest of the race and just having someone to run with made such a difference. Thanks, Kayla!
I somehow found enough energy to push my pace in the last kilometer, and crossed the finish line at 2 hours 14 minutes (and 13 seconds, but who’s counting?)! This time is decent… but the sweet thing is that it’s a) barely below the time goal I set for myself; and b) right at my usual pace… which means if I hadn’t had to walk because physical issues, I would have finished faster than my usual pace! It took a bit for my legs to stop feeling like jelly, but we got inside the warm gym and enjoyed some hard-earned chili, coffee and orange slices… with new medals around our necks. Once I started to feel warm and energetic again, it started to hit me that I had actually accomplished this gigantic goal I set for myself. I may not have won, or even finished in the top 50%, but who cares? Not me. My pride in this accomplishment has nothing to do with my time or my competitive edge or lack thereof. I am most proud of myself for spending two months getting up early, sacrificing evenings, running in rain, dark and snow to train for this event. I can’t say with any certainty that I’ll ever run such a long distance again (ask me when my legs stop being sore), but I’ll always know that I can.