Thirteen point FREAKING one!

If we are Facebook friends, you are more than aware that this past Saturday morning, May 4th, 2013, I completed my first ever Half Marathon. A friend told me Saturday night that he had to scroll through at least 97 status updates and photos about the race on his Facebook newsfeed before he could finally see what was happening in anyone else’s life!

Well, sooorrry! You run 13.1 miles and then see if you want to scream it from the mountaintops!

I promise. You will.

But yes, I completed the Cap City Half Marathon in Columbus, Ohio. 13.1 agonizing, thrilling, endless, and yet gratifying miles. A year ago, hell, 10 years ago, when I was in my peak athletic condition as a varsity high school rower, I would have never completed 13.1 miles. But then, a few months ago, some friends alluded to the idea that if they could run a half marathon, so could I, and we should do it together. I laughed, shook my head and told them how crazy they were for running a half marathon, let alone thinking I would want to do it with them.

Well, time went on and they were able to convince me to run a few (much) shorter races with some friends. As we ran the Oktoberfest 4 miler, the Walk for AIDS 5k, the Thanksgiving Day Flying Feather 5k…I had begun to see a trend. As soon as one of us thought a particular race might be a good idea, it immediately became an “I’ll do it if you do it!” type of agreement. We had all suddenly become race buddies. The Oktoberfest race was fun because my friends and I will use any event as an excuse to dress in costume, so we ran the race in beer bottle costumes! Sure, people run it in lederhosen every year, but I think we were the first beer bottles to cross the finish line. Next year we are going to create some sort of pretzel costume…this could take some creativity.

So when one of us {ahem…Amanda…ahem} decided that, “Sure! I think I want to challenge myself to run the half marathon!”…my competitive side kicked in. Well, if Amanda’s gonna do it, I can do it! Fine. I’ll sign up too! Wait…what? You have to PAY for this torture?? Ugh. There better be a sweet medal.” One by one, almost all of our workout buddies began to agree to this masochism and signed up. A few could not be swayed to join us, but in the end, we had a tribe of 9 running warriors in all (I think I counted everyone!).

Once I had paid the entrance fee, I had to do it, I couldn’t let that money go to waste! I’m an underpaid teacher who is easily influenced by her friend’s fashion blog to purchase things she just HAS to have! So I began training. I asked Alexander, our fearless hot yoga and kickboxing and spinning and hip-hop and…you get the point…instructor how I should train. He told me that there are 2 camps of marathon training. I could either run, run, run, RUN! Or, I could do a little bit of everything. He is of the latter camp. He stressed strengthening my entire body, all my muscles, in order to help me run better. Being that I didn’t really enjoy running at the start of all this, I was stoked to hear that I wasn’t going to have to run 8 miles EVERY day.

I took Alexander’s advice and did a little bit of a lot of things.

Monday: Weightlifting

Tuesday: Run (distance varied)

Wednesday: 90 minutes of hot yoga

Thursday: Run or spin

Friday: Whatever I didn’t do Thursday

Saturday: This varied every week from running to biking to touch football…just something active. In all honesty, many weeks, Saturday was my day off.

Sunday: 60 minutes hot yoga.

This (flexible) training schedule truly prepared me for my race. Once it got nicer out, I started running outside, which was waaaay better than being stuck inside on the treadmill. Because I didn’t get bored so quickly, I was able to run farther! All of this running and training was great until about 4 weeks before the Half, I was running on the treadmill with a goal of 6 miles. Towards the end, my knee REALLY started hurting. Something I had never felt before. It was at that moment that I realized, Well, shit. I guess this means I’m a runner. What about this pain made me a runner? I knew what was causing the pain. Running. I knew what would make the pain go away. Not running. I knew that “not running” just was not an option. All signs pointed to the pain not actually being my knee, but my IT band. (for an explanation of just what this means, click here: OUCH!) So out I went to buy a special running brace. My first run with the brace was miraculous. 8 beautiful, outdoor, sunshiney miles without any pain! Huzzah! But then every run after that included the pain. So I just got used to it and ran through it. The pain would come and go as I ran, so I just kept going. My very last pre-race run was the Monday before the Saturday, May 4th race. I made it so close to my 6-mile goal before my leg just quit. There would be no “running through the pain.” So at this, I vowed to not run at all until race day and let my leg rest and heal. Alexander recommended not changing my workout schedule much the week prior to the race, other than to reduce my running, so this actually went according to plan.

Fast-forward a few days to race day. Saturday, May 4th, 2013. I woke up bright and early at 5:15am (that’s earlier than I get up for work!), got dressed, and scarfed a few eggs and an energy bar. I met my plucky race buddy Amanda and her husband Brad at their house, where we biked to the starting line. Once we arrived at race central, we were lucky enough to stumble across a few other race warriors (trying to find someone amongst 14,000 of your fellow runners was next to impossible!), Mandy & Roxanna. My dad came to meet me at the starting line as well. Us 4 girls just kept freaking out at the fact that we were actually about to embark upon 13.1 miles. Thirteen point one miles. That is a hell of a lot of miles. But we were ready. We had trained, we were hydrated and nourished, and we looked fabulous (c’mon. you don’t think we were going to use this as an opportunity to add to our wardrobe??).

Even my breakfast was cheering me on!

Even my breakfast was cheering me on!

 

My Lady Race Warriors! Me, Amanda, Mandy, & Roxanna!

My Lady Race Warriors! Me, Amanda, Mandy, & Roxanna!

 

Dad & I pre-race!

Dad & I pre-race!

8:00am: BAM! The race begins!

Well, it began for the people at the starting line. We were so far back that we didn’t actually hit the starting line until 8:14am. The four of us started jogging together, keeping up with one another, but eventually, we each hit our stride and it was every woman for herself to meet her goals. After a bit, I found a few more runner warriors, including Alexander. I passed them all and kept running. I was feeling awesome! I was high on adrenaline and passion! And then.

BAM! My leg gave out.

Freaking IT Band. It just started searing with pain. I was only about a mile and a half in and I was already walking! I had planned on running at LEAST 5 miles before taking a break. NO! NO! NO! But I had to listen to my body. So I walked until the pain subsided and I ran a bit. Searing pain. Walk. Run. Searing pain. Walk. Run. Searing pain. Keep running. Mind over matter. Run through it. This is it – what you’ve trained for. Pain is temporary, pride is forever. So I kept running. And guess what? The pain went away. I knew I had to keep running because if I stopped, it would only hurt again. So I ran. I pulled a Forrest Gump and just kept running. I was able to stop at every water station and take a little break without the pain reoccurring. I don’t know if I had just warmed up the tissue and stretched it out or if I was experiencing some sort of “runner’s high,” but whatever it was, I’m glad it happened.

As I turned a corner on the course from N. High St to Broad St., there was a woman in a wheelchair with a sign that read, “Run Strong Because I Can’t!” I’m not sure why she couldn’t run, but that sign spoke to me and gave me reason to keep going. It even made me tear up a bit. Initially, my dad had told me that he wouldn’t see me at the finish line because it would be too crazy with too many people. But at that moment, I knew that I needed to see him there. I needed to hug my dad at the end. I had my phone on me, so I texted Dad (He’s so old fashioned. He can read texts, but hasn’t figured out responding yet.) and asked him to please be there when I finished.

Throughout the race, I saw a few friends cheering me on (one group of friends, I actually passed them and then turned around and ran BACK to get a picture with them!), I had other friends texting me words of encouragement, and one friend even hopped in and ran with me for about ¼ of a mile! I was all good until about mile 11. I was at a good pace and my legs weren’t exhausted yet. But then right around that mile 11 marker…I. Got. Tired. I knew it was all in my head (Thanks girl with the “You’re legs are giving up, you mind is!” poster!) and kept pushing on. I knew I had made it that far and would only be disappointed in myself if I gave up then. So on I went, through German Village and back onto N. High St for my big finish. That was the point when Roni, a girl I don’t really even know that well, saw me running and hopped in with me. She’s run a few of these things before, so she knows how those last few miles feel. With her purse and all, she ran next to me. She gave me words of encouragement and asked if I could hear the beat. “You hear that? That beat? That means you’re getting close to the finish! You got this girl. You’ve worked so hard and you’re so close. You’re not giving up now. Keep going!” Man, that’s some awesome shit right there. I could write (SHOULD write!) a whole other post about the CBus community and how tight knit we are, even with people we vaguely know. But really, I sure hope that I wouldn’t have quit without her actions, but Roni running next to me solidified the fact that I would finish that race running.

And Mom. Oh, Mom. I knew that she was up above screaming, “PERSEVERE!” My mom was my biggest motivation to keep going. When she was alive, she NEVER let me quit anything I started and has been my inspiration for perseverance for many years now. So I carried on in her honor. I ran because she can’t.

I got to mile 13 and had that final .1 mile to go. High Street was lined on both sides with people cheering, holding signs, ringing bells…I felt like I was one of the first 10 to finish (I certainly wasn’t!). Once I had entered into that tunnel of buoyant support, not only did I NOT walk, but I sprinted. I ran as fast as I could through that last bit of racecourse.

The Big Finish! {sorry for the screenshot, but it's $20/pic!!}

The Big Finish!
{sorry for the screenshot, but it’s $20/pic!!}

And guess who was waiting at the finish line cheering my name…

…my Dad.

I fell into his arms with the greatest, most exhausted of hugs and cried. I cried because I had just accomplished the greatest physical feat I had ever attempted. I have spiritually overcome many things in my life, but today’s 13.1 miles required perseverance of not only my body, but my mind and my heart as well. I cried because I wished my mom were there to hug me. I hope she would be proud. I cried because it was MY body, MY mind, and MY heart that crossed that finish line. Yes, I could not and would not have done it without the support of my loved ones, but in the end, I was the one that had to take each stride and carry on.

Dad & I at the Finish Line!

Dad & I at the Finish Line!

So thank you to each and every one of you that called, texted, and even ran beside me. Not only have I learned that my body and mind are capable of more than I ever imagined, but so are my amazing and encouraging friends and family!

My Halfie Race Warriors Post-Race! And yeah! You got a free beer for running!

My Halfie Race Warriors Post-Race! And yeah! You got a free beer for running!
L-R: Brooke, Mandy, Alexander, Roxanna, Kendall, Me, Amanda, & Noreen. Not pictured; Jackie & Brenton!

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10 thoughts on “Thirteen point FREAKING one!

  1. Congrats! Its something lots of people never even attempt to accomplish! I remember my first 1/2 a year ago, trust me the world knew too.
    Will you be running more?

    • OMG! I began to cry, laugh,& was actually interested in reading!! LOL! I so loved your intejections! I was cracking up!! You are captioning the true meaning of writing because I felt the love of truly how it was for you and on the way you grabbed my feeling as well to express that 13.1 mile run!! Way to GO!!! xoxo Noreen 🙂 Congrats!

  2. Awesome 🙂 This made me tear up thinking about running my first half marathon. My dad ran with me and we crossed the finish line together.

  3. I don’t know you, but that had to be the most inspirational and touching written work I have read in a long time. I am happy you pushed yourself to do it because it is the greatest feeling. No one can take it away! Congrats girl!!!!!

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