Some time last year ( I don’t even remember when), I signed myself up for another half marathon. I’m not really sure why I did it – maybe I was so upset with myself for getting sick and missing my one in Chicago, or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment – either way, I paid the $70 or so and signed up for the Mercedes Half in Birmingham. I told myself I would not travel too far away for any more of these things – I’ve decided I like to be in my nice controlled environment. I like my bed, and I like my husband being right next to me, and I like knowing that I will be able to have my pre-half marathon breakfast of Nuun and a plain bagel with cream cheese, and that barring an apocalypse of some sort, nothing will interrupt that.
I’m going to be real right now – I didn’t train much for this. The longest “long” run I ran was 7 miles – I mainly used my 5x a week Orange Theory sessions as my training. In hindsight, I realize how ridiculous this was – that I should have definitely incorporated more long runs. And when I was out there running, here’s the thing. My lungs didn’t give out – my left hip and my knees were in so much pain. By around mile 8, I thought I might have to give up. I hadn’t retrained my body to be able to handle that much time pounding the pavement, and man, did I end up feeling it.
I woke up around 530 on Sunday – got dressed (for these kinds of things, I’m uncharacteristically prepared, with my clothes laid out, my bib and safety pins all put together and headphones and running arm band on top), ate my bagel and tried to shake my nerves off. I get really nervous about everything – it’s just who I am. I hopped into the car, and turned my running playlist on, and the first song that came on was Calvin Harris’ and Rihanna’s We Found Love. I immediately started crying (please tell me other people do this when they are about to run a half-marathon), and giving myself a little pep talk.
I got to the start line and there was only 20 minutes before the race started – I loved this, and will do this every chance I get. It went a long way to not just stand there and stew in all of my emotions.
The weather was … well at least it wasn’t freezing cold. It was really humid, and it rained just a few times during the actual race. No crazy downpours, and it actually felt good since there was zero air moving around. I was feeling really good up until about mile 8 (like I mentioned before) – I try to not stop often to get water or PowerAde or anything, as to not interrupt my rhythm – BUT all of my bagel calories were completely gone, and I was in pain. I stopped to get some GU (the strawberry banana kind is the shizzz) and to get a drink of water. This was right after the toughest, hilliest part of the race. I mean, it’s Birmingham, so there are going to be hills.
One thing that keeps me going during the race are the people cheering on the side of the street. You may think that these people don’t really do much, but when you’re at mile 10, and people are out there waiting for a high five and telling you that you’re amazing – it helps. I did have to walk a few times to relieve the pain on my hip, but I powered through. I even sprinted the last tenth of a mile just to get it over with.
I will tell you that crossing that finish line regardless of the amount of time it takes you to do it, is one of the most exhilarating feelings in the whole world. To push your body that far — it just feels so great. And then to see your husband and your kiddo there waiting for you — nothing feels better. Well except for the food and booze that you get afterwards.
Moral of the story – I finished. I knocked 10 minutes off my last half marathon time. And that is nothing to not be proud of. I like to compare myself to pretty much everyone around me – always ranking myself against them, making sure to highlight all of my negative. But not when I finish a half marathon. I feel incredible – even if I can’t walk for two days after. I pushed my body to its physical limit, and I finished.
I have another half scheduled in August with my running buddy, Brett, and I’ve been toying with training for a full marathon. So I’ll go through all the same emotions as I do for every half. I’ll cry and smile and talk about it way too much – and that’ll be just fine.