I did the impossible yesterday. I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 37 minutes.
Now I’m going to tell you a little back story about myself.
I am not a natural runner by any means. It actually takes a lot of effort for me to successfully run 3 miles, let alone 13. I struggle easily when running. I have weak ankles, my breathing is almost always off, and I could name a million other things I would rather be doing than running (i.e. swim in shark infested waters, cut off my legs and beat myself senseless with them, be covered in paper cuts…and I realize how dramatic I’m being).
7 months ago I could barely run for 30 seconds without feeling winded and weak. I remember my gym teacher back in high school said I was so out of shape because I couldn’t run one lap around the course without stopping. Back then, I was 95 pounds and danced several hours a week, but to her standards, I was out of shape. This obviously irritated me making me think anyone who doesn’t run is just an out of shape slob which that is clearly not true. Even though I accepted my lack of running, I still envied the naturals who seemed to enjoy it.
I don’t particularly know why I decided to run a half marathon. I had been wanting to improve my running for a while and figured the best motivation would be to sign up for a half marathon where I’m forced to improve my running. For me, I need a drill sergeant yelling and screaming in my ear telling me what to do otherwise I simply won’t do it. The half marathon was my drill sergeant.
So about that half marathon. Sam describes the course to be a pretty flat one, which sounds easy enough in my head. I feel great as I hit mile 5, thinking how fast this is already going. From mile 5 to mile 7 or 8, it seemed like it was constant up and downhill, up and downhill, that I soon started to hit a wall. But I was determined to not stop for more than 30 seconds, which I didn’t. I finally tried that Gu stuff everyone keeps raving about that gives you a boost of energy, and I will warn you….it tastes disgusting. I grabbed one from a little kid handing them out from his tiny backpack which sounds a little creepy now that I look back on it.
But it did give me a boost of energy for a whole minute and a half until I hit that wall again. But then I started reaching the onlookers and supporters holding up signs and flags and clapping as we continued on our way that I started to feel pretty good again. The course was a little strange as we had to pass the finish line and keep going for 4 miles before being able to cross it. I got a little confused by mile 9 and grabbed a water and asked the volunteers where I go from there. They must have thought I was a 5 or 10k runner because they said, “Get to the parking structure and turn around.” Only I could see the parking structure from where I was standing. It wasn’t even a quarter of a mile from me. I looked at the mile 9 marker and then the parking structure and immediately thought, “that makes no sense…but okay.” So I kept going, past the parking structure, hoping maybe I’ll see another one as I keep going. Only I didn’t…and I don’t think that volunteer has any idea how much she psychologically ruined me in that moment.
I kept going and got to mile 10 where it was a side street for about 2 miles and it looked like an abandoned construction zone with no onlookers around, and hardly any other runners near me. It was the longest two miles of my life. As I got out of the abandoned area, I wanted so badly to yell at a cop directing traffic “What the hell was that?!” and pointing to the side street, but I knew better. But I wanted to blame somebody for those awful two miles. Of course, I knew I only had one more mile left, so I pretty much booked it.
Long story short, anybody can run a half marathon if you put your mind to it. A year ago, I called Sam crazy for running a half marathon in 7 degree weather, and I guess I’m just as crazy as him. I could probably do this again, but not anytime soon.