"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Monday, April 11, 2011

My First Half Marathon

I did it. I really did it and it still seems unreal to me. Yesterday, I ran my first half marathon, actually my first race of any kind, with a time of 2:15:46. It was one of the hardest and most satisfying things I have ever done. Ever. I am seriously having trouble believing it is real.

I think I was most suprised with my decided lack of nerves the morning of the race. I was pumped up and having a great time. I remember grabbing the hand of my just met the night before new friend Brook's hand so we could wind our way through the insane amount of people to get into our corral. My feeling was more that I was going to a dance party than I was preparing to accomplish something so life changing. I was chatting, playing, and laughing with all those around me. It was crazy fun.

When the race started, I felt this amazing calm come upon me. It took 15 minutes to walk to the start with all the people in front of us. I bent my head in prayer to thank my heavenly Father for the strength, the determination, the ability to do this race. I quickly realized, I was crying! I quietly cried with joy. I thought of all the hard runs, the cold weather, leaving my family so I could "fit in" 8 miles. I thought of all the aches and pain it had brought me. It had been a hard, hard road and there I stood on the brink of fulfillment. I stood (well, shuffled slowly with the crowd) absolutely amazed at what I was about to do.

I am not going to go mile by mile with the technical break down of each mile. I will say those hills were seriously hard. I do believe one was almost a mile long, seriously. All I could do was fix my gaze about 10-15 feet in front of me, focus on my breathing, and just put one foot in front of the next. But however I did it, I made it through.

From the very beginning it was evident to me that I was not going to be forced to struggle through or talk myself into completing this part. Trust me, I have completed many training runs on strength of will alone. But this was different. So I decided that this, like so many things in my life, was going to be an exercise in being present and aware. I am so glad I made that decision. I now have vibrant memories of cheering with crowds as I passed through, the beauty of Soulard's townhomes in the early morning light, the smell of the brewery (okay, maybe I could have done without that one). I remember how my body felt as it warmed up and became loose enough to run a comfortable stride and how it tensed up later and had to relax all over again. One of the fondest memories I will have is really feeling my feet start to hurt and then as I turned the corner I saw an incredible sign held aloft, "The only reason your feet hurt is because of how much butt you are kicking." That gave me energy for a couple of miles.

I really enjoyed running without music. I loved chatting with people and the sense of comraderie. It was immensely enjoyable and lifted my spirits and enabled my feet to fly. It was the best run of my life and I am rather sad it is over.

This experience has truly been life changing for me. The committment and dedication it required was beyond any challenge I have undertaken up to this point. There were times I wanted to quit. There were times I didn't believe in myself. I think pure stubborness and the refusal to admit on Facebook I was quitting was the only thing that carried me through some rought points. But in the end, I really did it. I proved to myself that I could. I proved to myself that I could set a very challenging goal, I could keep up with the day to day that was required, and when the time came, I shined brighter than I ever dreamed possible.

I am now looking forward to a different kind of challenge. The month of May will find me dedicated to yoga, hooping, and living life sugar free. It will be hard and challenging in its own way. My next running goal is another half marathon in October with an aim to come in under a 10 minute mile pace. But whatever the goals I set in my life, I am bursting with confidence I have the ability to see it through. I encourage you to set a goal and find this confidence if you don't already embody it. It is breathtaking.

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