Guest Post: Best Damn Race Half Marathon 02.01.2014
What inspires me? My friend Annie. Read below and find out why! 🙂
Proof that we can continue against the odds…and sometimes find our biggest successes!
2:22. For a runner, that time is not exactly something to brag about for a half marathon. I am not the fastest runner by any means, but it was the longest it’s taken me to complete that distance. It was, by a long shot the ‘worst’ time I’ve ever gotten. That day, I did not get to ring the PR bell that so many people were enjoying after finishing the race.
The weeks leading up to the race, I had been unexpectedly busy with work, and a 24 hour business trip was scheduled with all day client meetings the Wednesday and Thursday before the race. Being my stubborn self, I was determined to continue my running schedule to keep up with my training; which included a 10 mile run in the rain the Sunday before. I could feel my body breaking down, and that it was getting to be too much, but I picked myself up off the couch every night and put my running shoes on after a long day at work. And then I would come home and continue working. I was going on no sleep, but still I held hope to PR on race day.
Of course, come Saturday morning at 4 a.m, the realization came crashing down on me that no PR was going to happen that day. I could barely pull myself out of bed and put my clothes on. I knew then that I was walking into a long, hard battle ahead. It dawned on me that I could just get back into bed and forfeit the race, but I wanted to finish what I started, so on I forged.
At the gun, I put my headphones in and my head down and ran over the mat to start my timing chip. I told myself not to think about it, and to just keep going. 13.1. I was exhausted to my breaking point, and here I was attempting to run 13.1 miles.
Hills. So many hills. I kept thinking I had just ran over the last one, when the next one came looming into view. It was a crazy mind game, and I was losing it. At mile 4, I was starting to think I would have to stop and leave the course, or have someone come scrape me off of it. It was then that I saw a penny right in front of me. My lucky penny. I took it as a sign to keep going, and so I did. One foot after the other. Left, right, left, right. Eyes open.
People passed me. A lot of them. It went against all of my instincts not to try to keep up with them. My amazing friend Nicole, a veteran runner who ran right by my side for my first half marathon would circle back and run with me throughout the course. I had to walk. So I walked. More than a few times. Leaving the course and not finishing kept burbbling up in my mind, but I shooed it away each time and kept going. It hurt. Everything hurt. I was so tired I thought I would pass out.
By mile 10, I was drenched in sweat and whimpering, but I had made it to within a 5k of the finish. I was in stride with another woman who seemed to also be struggling. We stayed with each other for a while. At mile 12, she turned to me and said “come on baby girl” and started to pick up the pace. Those few words of encouragement gave me new life and energy to get to the end. I picked up the pace too.
I could hear cheers in the distance. I knew I was near the end. I kept going. I could hear someone yelling my name. I looked up. It was my friend Dirk, and all of my friends, cheering me on. I could see them all smiling at me and encouraging me to finish strong. I ran the last .1 miles as hard as I could. I finished.
The next week was a fog, and I stumbled through the days trying to get my energy back. I had to force myself not to run, and today, a week after the race, I finally feel normal again.
That race was the most difficult I have ever had to run both physically and mentally for me so far as a runner. And I could have just stayed in bed. But what I wouldn’t have learned was that 2:22 ain’t too shabby of a time for a half marathon. This time, it wasn’t about the PR. It was about the determination to finish what I started. It was about the support other runners give each other to finish and to show up as their best. It was about coming out on the other side and crossing that finish line after 13.1 miles of pain and doubt. And because of all of this, The Best Damn Race Half Marathon 2014 is the race I am most proud of. Because I wouldn’t have learned the best lesson of all: that last week’s race was more than running. It was proof I can do it against all odds.
And I will run again. And again, and again.