This past January, I printed off a 6-month calendar and wrote out a training schedule to prepare myself to run a half-marathon. Looking at the training plan then, it seemed almost impossible that I could build myself up from not running at all and coming back from an injury, to running 13 miles in one go. But, I also knew that with a plan in place, a goal in mind, and my stubborn motivation, I could do it.
I started with training on an elliptical, then running laps on an indoor track, until one day I decided that I was beginning to feel “in shape,” so I bundled up to run outside.
I ran through snowstorms, wind, rain, fog, fatigue, sunny days and quiet dusks. I got hurt, I got sick, but I didn’t let it derail me. I got better, and I got back on my plan. I didn’t follow my training schedule perfectly—I did what I felt like doing, when I felt like doing it, but I always did something, even if I didn’t always want to.
So, on this past Saturday, when I stood at the starting line for the “world’s cheesiest marathon,” the Wisconsin marathon, it felt surreal to me. I felt like I was just going on another one of my long training runs—only this time, with about 4,000 other people coming along.
It was supposed to be cold and rainy, but when the starting gun blasted and we began running, the clouds seemed to dissolve and the sun came out. We were off, off onto this 13-mile journey that I had waited so long for.
It took me the first few miles to get accustomed to running in a crowd. I enjoyed the sun on my face, the slight breeze, and the volunteers and community cheering on the sidelines as I passed by them. I grinned at them all. They couldn’t know it, but they were witnessing a rite of passage: I was finally running a half marathon!
About 6 miles into the race, I still felt pretty good, but I realized that I had been running faster than my anticipated pace of 10 minutes per mile. At mile 8, the fatigue started to set in, but the site of my boyfriend and friends cheering for me (and snapping a few photos) on the sideline put some energy back into my never-ceasing step. I kept moving, thinking about how I was already over halfway done with the race.
I turned the race into two goals: Finish the first ten miles, and then it’s a nice, easy 3 mile run after that. Mentally, it helped me to think of it as two goalposts, rather than just, 13 miles to go! But physically, there was no way to fool myself. By mile 10, I still felt pretty good, but I could tell I was getting tired. At mile 11, I hit the proverbial “wall” and knew the last two miles would be tough. And they were. My joints and knees ached, I felt hunched over due to the fatigue, and the sun had disappeared, leaving me to fight against a chilly, unrelenting breeze. But not once did I think, I can’t do this.
Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. My feet kept moving. Almost there.
And then I was there: I could first hear, and then see, the mass of people cheering along the pathway to the finish line. I had about half a mile to go, and from somewhere inside of me, the last reserves of energy and adrenaline were unleashed as I took off, running fast to that finish line.
2:11:52, the clock read as I crossed the line. Not too shabby.
I had done it: After 13.1 miles, I’d finished my first half marathon.
I told my mom later that now the half-marathon is over, I’m left thinking, What next? She asked if I would run a full marathon. I told her, “I’m not crazy—only crazy people would want to run 26 miles in one go!”
To which she replied, “I don’t know—I think running 13 miles at once is kind of crazy.”
You might be right, mom.
But then, you always knew I was a little crazy, didn’t you?
Starting weight: 166 pounds
Last week: 149 pounds
This week: 149 pounds
Goal weight: 145 pounds
P.S. A big thanks to Jockey for paying my entry fee (and the fees for all my co-workers) and encouraging us to be healthy!