Holy WHAT?? I just ran a half marathon! That’s 13.1 miles DONE.
This is a bit of a long post, but I wanted to make sure I documented everything. I got up at 5:00, ate a whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter and a banana, my standard pre-long-run fuel. Steve and I were out of the house at 5:30 and headed to Zionsville, a small town northwest of Indy. (Isn’t he awesome? For getting up before dawn on a Saturday to watch his wife run? He’s the best.)
When we pulled into the parking lot at the Zionsville town hall, we saw other runners gathering of all fitness levels. That was nice to see; crazy-fit people and normal people like me. 🙂 I had been on the fence about using my iPhone (with the running app and music) and my water belt, but after checking in to sign the waiver, Steve encouraged me to use them. The course was three laps on dirt paths and paved trails, about 4.4 miles per lap. So, I went back to the car to fill up the water bottles, and joined the rest of the runners at the starting point. Well, actually pretty much at the back of the pack. I didn’t want to get caught up in a pace I knew I couldn’t sustain.
I chatted with a couple people, including one other guy who was using this race as a test run for a half marathon in a couple weeks. We talked about pacing, gear, how long we’ve been running, etc. It was nice to talk to someone who was at the same place I was, fitness-wise.
As we first started off, I felt great. I took it nice and slow for the first mile, just enjoying the scenery and the energy of people around me. The course was gorgeous – green, fresh air, gently flowing river. One mile out, I came to a four-switchback boardwalk. It had rained recently, so it was a teensy bit slippery. The course took us up and down the boardwalk on each lap. I ended up walking it a couple times, especially going up.
At around 2 miles, I started feeling terribly crampy. Like, dive behind the closest tree and grab some leaves that hopefully aren’t poison ivy crampy. It was agony. I don’t know why exactly, since I hadn’t eaten anything new that morning and I’d used the restroom right before the race. I switched to walking, drank some water, took deep breaths – even prayed. I was texting Steve to let him know why I was taking longer, and he asked if I thought I could finish.
“We’ll see,” I texted back. “You can do it!” he said.
As I finished the first lap, I was feeling better. I had some fruit snacks and more water, and kept on going. Lap 2 was fortunately uneventful. I was feeling pretty good, although the course was more difficult than I’d anticipated. The boardwalk, plus ups and downs in the dirt trail section, combined with having to take a long walking break during my first lap…my pace was not exactly awesome. My goal had been to finish in 2:30, but I was starting to doubt that I could do it.
As I finished lap 2, I handed my water belt to Steve to refill and ate some more fruit snacks. I had thought I would try to do the last lap without the belt, but after two laps, I knew I would need water. The temperature was in the 70s, but it was humid and I was sa-WEATING. I put the belt back on, said, “Let’s do this!” and was off again.
By now, I’d already been lapped by skinny dudes in tiny shorts. That was slightly demoralizing. I texted Steve to tell him, and he replied, “Don’t sweat it. Run your own race.”
During my last lap, there were times – especially in the trails that wound through the woods – that I was completely alone. I had a rough idea of who was ahead of me and who was behind me, but I couldn’t see anyone. I thought about something my good friend Judy told me last night, “Run and feel His pleasure,” a reference to Eric Liddel in Chariots of Fire. Especially during those times when it was just me and the squirrels, I thought about that. I thought about how thankful I was that God gave me strong legs, a beating heart, and lungs that can expand. I thought about my family – Steve who was still texting me encouraging things (“Legs of the ostrich!!”), Mom and Dad and my siblings who were at Cedarville to watch Karley graduate. I thought about how I started in March 2011 with the Couch-to-5K running plan, and now I’m pounding out a half marathon. Feeling His pleasure!
By mile 11, my legs were starting to hurt. My whole body was tired. I walked up the boardwalk to the final mile stretch. A deep breath, pumped up the volume on the tunes, and pressed on ahead. Right before I rounded the bend back to the finish, I pulled out my ear buds. I wanted to be completely in the moment as I finished. (So much so that I forgot to hit End Workout until 10 minutes after I crossed the finish!) I came around the trees, just a few meters from the finish, and saw the clock.
I gasped, “WHAT??” and just all-out sprinted to the end. I crossed the finish line at 2:29:11.
Steve was right there, cheering me on and snapping pictures. I started to cry as I realized what I’d just done, the goal I accomplished. And crying when you’re panting for breath isn’t a great thing to do! Gasp, gasp, gasp…it took me a while to catch my breath. Then I was just in shock! I did WHAT, now? I finished a half marathon?? Who does that?? And I did it in my goal time, even with the cramps and difficult terrain. Just crazy.
I had some water and a banana from the cooler, stretched and toweled off, and then we went on a short walk into the woods to find a nearby geocache to commemorate the occasion. Also, it’s Cinco de Mayo, so that’s fun, too!
Thank you, thank you so much to everyone who has encouraged me in this journey! I couldn’t have done it without you! Your words of wisdom, Facebook posts and Likes, compliments – it’s meant so much to me. As I considered quitting during the first leg, I thought of all the people who have encouraged me so wonderfully, and I couldn’t bear to have to tell you that I’d backed out! Plus I’m pretty sure that Steve wouldn’t let me wuss out.
Sweaty, muddy, but oh so happy!