It’s pretty amazing when you imagine a day of your life to go a certain way, have a certain feel, and it does- only it’s about a million times better than your highest hopes thought it could possibly be. On September 2nd I ran my first (FIRST!) half marathon, and it was by far the greatest moment in my life (thus far).
It was a long weekend filled with amazing friends, family, support, laughs- nervous laughs, and trying to remain calm without completely freaking out. I’m so lucky to have my good friend, Tana. She ran with me (though not WITH me) and was a tremendous source of support through it all. I pretty much spent all weekend with her until just after the race. It’s great to have a friend who you can look at and just know exactly what the other is thinking. Most of those looks of course translated to OH MY FUCKING GOD, WE ARE DOING THIS!!!. We embraced that look back and forth to each other over 2 days. But you know what, we did it. It happened. Our alarms rang at 3:30 am. We suited up, packed our runner’s belts, made breakfast to-go and left the house by 4am. And when we arrived and walked to our assigned running corrals that was it, there was no going back. Shortly after the National Anthem was sung, the race began. And can I just say how surreal it is to hear the National Anthem sung at a sporting event YOU are participating in? That shit only happens to athletes! And there’s the epiphany! I AM an athlete. And that’s when I started to cry. I usually cry when I hear it sung anyway, but on this day I really cried. I covered my mouth and actually let out a small sob. It’s really overwhelming being in a crowd like that, all lined-up, all waiting, knowing everyone has trained for months just like you. It’s electric and emotional and surreal. And I will never forget that moment.
At about every 1 1/3 miles was a water and sports drink stop, followed by a line a bathrooms. I utilized them.
Every mile marker had entertainment of some kind, high school bands and drill teams and cheerleaders. But at mile 7 my own cheer squad was waiting for me.
Seeing my parents and my sister standing there made my heart ache with happiness. I chose not to stop and hug them because I knew I’d breakdown and cry (even more!) and I just wanted to keep running. My sister screamed, “That’s my sister!” as I ran by. I had forgotten I could still make my family proud of me.
I have to adress my playlist again, because it really helped me get those miles done. There are lots of songs I will hear again, and forever know exactly where I was when they came on. Those songs proved especially important around mile 11. I was tired and a little crampy by then, but how can you even consider stopping when you only have 2-ish miles to go? Those last 2 miles I smiled painfully and hi-fived all kinds of strangers holding out their open palms on the sidelines. Having complete strangers cheer you on and applaud you is almost as thrilling as seeing your own friends do it. And at the tail end of mile 12, just as I was approaching the finish line, I saw my good friends Donn and Allan. They literally materialized out of nowhere. At that point I did practically jump on the fence and hug them both, then I ran to the finish, arms over my head- SMILING! And it was over.
I met-up with Tana and the guys shortly after. We all laughed and hugged and ate cookies that Donn had made us and we all sat in the shade. Looking at those medals around our necks and realizing that THAT just happened was indescribable.
It still feels unreal. I’m so glad I have pictures and a medal to prove I actually did it.
I really feel like I can do anything now. That means it’s time to set new goals. I’ve taken the last few days off to let my body rest a bit and just eat some good food. But I’ll be back on the fitness train soon. I know I want to do another half marathon, but how soon that will be is yet to be determined. For now I’l just bask in my glory for a while.
I did it. I really did it.