“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.”

Well guys, after weeks of training, days of freaking out, lots of blisters, and several blog posts… I finally did it. I ran a half marathon. I am not happy with my time… I made some bad choices that ended up messing with my performance. But I finished. I learned something. And I’m already registered for another 🙂

Time to recap (Three days later… oops! My internet has been down, sorry guys!):

I woke up early on Saturday morning and could not believe it was finally race day. I rolled out of bed and went straight to the bathroom. There was no way that I was going to let poop cramps mess this race up for me. I ate a banana, skipped out drinking any water (bad idea), got dressed (in our coordinating outfits), went over a map with Scotty, and then we headed to the race area.

Mom and I got several compliments on our matchy-match outfits 🙂 Mom and a few ladies in my half marathon training group really wanted us to do a “team bride” theme for the race, so they all wore shirts with TEAM BRIDE letters on the back, and I wore a small little veil. I thought I would feel stupid at first, but I really enjoyed all of the extra cheers that it got me.

We met up with our training group and had a pre race pep talk. IT WAS HERE. THIS RACE WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Soon enough, it was go time. I felt strangely peaceful as we approached the starting line. The gun went off, and we were running!

(The guy in the bright yellow tank and shoes ended up being the winner– ZOOM ZOOM!) The first three miles went smoothly. I was just enjoying the atmosphere and hearing all the people cheering– it felt like one giant fun run or something. Our half marathon training group was spread out through out the different pace groups, and occasionally one of us would shout what had become our battle cry throughout training, “THIRTEEN POINT ONE, HOOTIE HOO,” and the rest of us and other racers would yell back with enthusiasm.

(You can tell this is early in the race because I’m still smiling) At mile four, I saw Scott for the first time and he handed me my water bottle. Him and Little Sister were holding some hilarious signs that added to the fun atmosphere.

Miles 4 through 8 were largely uneventful. At mile 6 I saw Scott again and handed off my water bottle because I hadn’t been drinking out of it, so I didn’t want to hold it anymore (bad idea). I had been holding the right pace to get my time goal (2:22), I had to stop at a porta-potty once, but it didn’t mess with my time too much. Those miles were definitely tough mentally, because they were held on a loooong and straight greenway, out and back, but I enjoyed cheering on and being cheered on by all my friends that were in front of/behind me as we were passing each other going out and back.

After the green way, starting at about mile 9, is where it got tough. I started to regret not drinking my water and passing up on all of the aid stations. My legs started to feel heavy, and all I really wanted to do was sit down. Also, I was struggling with the temperature– it was several degrees warmer and MUCH more humid than any of my long training runs ever were. I was sweating a lot, and wishing I still had my water bottle. Finishing the race felt like such a far off thing, and I started to get mentally defeated.

At mile 10 my vision went blurry and my limbs felt like lead. I didn’t even have the energy to say something to my pacer. By this time I knew I was dehydrated and needed to get water ASAP. We finally made it to an aid station, where I stopped to walk and guzzle a cup. It was too late for just a quick cup of water to solve the problem though, because I never started feeling better.

Those last three miles were some of the hardest miles I have ever run in my life. The only thing I can remember thinking about (besides how horrible my body felt) was, “You know people who run 100 mile races and you can’t even finish a measly 13.1 strong.” In hindsight I am SO upset at myself for letting my negative thoughts get to me. Cheryl, my pacer, was laying on the tough love. At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to make my time goal. I looked over at Cheryl and stuttered out, “My mind says yes… my body says no.” She simply said, “Go with your mind,” and kept trotting on.

FINALLY, we made it to the end. I was so tired, I felt like someone could probably walk faster than I was currently running. Actually, I remember feeling annoyed because there actually WERE people right next to me walking to the finish line.

I crossed the line, saw my time (ten minutes over my goal), I received my medal, (but  didn’t feel like I deserved it), and plopped down underneath a tent. Scott rushed to see if I was okay, and Cheryl went off to go get me some water and gatorade. After a long while of just laying on the grass, I started to feel better, and was even able to paste on a smile for some obligatory post-race photos.

13.1 miles, in 2:33:06.

And then we went home. I did some thinking. And I put that 13.1 magnet on my car. And I let myself feel proud. Because, yes, I know a lot of amazing runners. I know people who have run for 24 hours straight, I know people who have run a marathon in every state, and I know people who can run a 15 minute 5k.

And there’s me. A person who has changed so much over the course of a year. A person who has gone from barely being able to run a mile, to being able to run 13 in a row. A person that has lost over 35 pounds and a lot of negative thoughts about herself. A person who used to look in the mirror and cringe but now sees her body as an amazing and powerful blessing.

I made mistakes, this wasn’t my best race, but you know what? That just makes me hunger for more 🙂

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