This morning I ran a half marathon.
I wrote this blog post on April 7, 2015 about my plan to become a runner. On April 15th, I wrote this post about being stuck and not being able to run more than a quarter mile. Then I really started battling the words in my head, the negative self-talk that can take over when I'm not paying attention. All because of running.
If you've followed my journey at all, or been around me for any length of time, you know that I have persisted in this whole running thing. When July in Texas brought 100 degree heat and 150% humidity, I started getting up at 7:00 to run. When I officially went back to work in August, I started getting up at 5:00 in the morning to run. I don't really do mornings before there is sun, so this was quite a feat. It was dedication on my part. I finished the Couch to 5K app, and then decided I needed another plan to follow. I'd gotten up to about four miles on my weekly runs, so I decided that I would attempt to run the BCS Half Marathon in December. I downloaded Run Keeper and started on the training plan for a run-walk half.
My awesome friend April would get up even earlier than me and drive to my house to run with me. If I ever wanted to sleep in, I knew I couldn't because April would be in the driveway. Then she moved to Spain (for real), but I had enough routine that I could continue my week day runs on my own. My training plan eventually said that I needed to run eight miles. Eight. Miles.
As soon as I recovered from my denial, I decided I needed a plan. I hadn't been taking water on my runs, but eight miles needed water. And a bathroom. And a planned route so I didn't end up eight miles from my house with no way home. I started asking lots of questions to my friend Erin, until she finally offered to run with me (I think I wore her down subliminally!).
I was quite surprised that on that Saturday, I ran eight miles. It was shocking, really.
Then 9.5 miles.
Then 11 miles.
Erin knew I had signed up for the Nutrabolt 10K in October, and asked me why I wasn't doing the half instead. The truth is that I had planned to do a half in December, not October. But as we ran 11 miles together and she offered to run the race with me, I realized that I WAS ready for a half marathon, so I got to work on changing my registration.
As it turned out, I missed the cut off by a couple of days. But I had gotten excited about it, so I finally relented and registered for the half at full price. With my registration for the 10K I made a donation to Mercy Project and got a really cool Nathan water bottle. Probably the most expensive water bottle I'll ever own!
As the race approached, so did Hurricane Patricia. I became increasingly anxious about the weather. It hadn't rained since May or June, and we were projected record-breaking rainfall in the days surrounding my first half marathon. It was hard to get mad, though, because people were experiencing real, life-changing danger as a result of the hurricane. For me it was just a little race.
I went to pick up my race packet on Saturday, and the rain was so hard and the roads were so wet that I was convinced they would cancel. I alternated between being angry that I had trained for something that wasn't going to happen and being happy that I wouldn't have to run in the rain and wind.
On race morning, I checked my phone about 5:15 a.m. and was surprised not to see an email about the cancellation. Then when my alarm went off at six, I was again surprised - no email. No cancellation. Erin texted to say if I wanted to skip it she'd understand, but I couldn't do it. I knew I'd be mad at myself if I wimped out, so I got dressed and got on the road.
It was cold. Windy. Wet. Dark. Before the race started I commented that this was probably the craziest thing I've ever done by choice. The rain under the streetlights made it look worse than it felt. Finally, we ran.
For the first few miles, we tried to keep our shoes dry. But after running down a street with water running in puddles across it, we gave up. The rain let up a little, then it picked up a little, then it let up. It was always raining, but not consistently. At some point I felt like my jacket was drying out, but another little downpour took care of that. I don't think I knew how wet I was until we made a porta-potty stop. It was surprising to see how drenched my pants were. Let's just say that pulling them back up was quite a challenge!
Mile 8 was hard. I considered sitting down on the side of the road, but I didn't. Once I saw the mile 10 marker I felt good. Three to go!
Then the "rolling hills" that I knew would be near the end were more like mountains. I said some bad words. A little past mile 12, the rain and wind really picked up. It was the windiest, coldest I'd been the whole race. I knew that Trey and the boys were going to meet me at the finish, and I thought about how hard it would be not to just jump in the truck if they happened to pass by us.
But Erin encouraged me and we persevered. Near the finish I could see my family, and that made me really, really happy. I was proud that I didn't just sit down on the ground once I crossed the finish. I really did think about it. Really.
We picked up our shirts, got our beer steins and got in the beer line. I don't drink beer (not on principle but because I don't like it). In that moment it actually sounded good. Especially with the pretzels I knew were at the next table. When they asked me what kind I wanted, I told them "the lightest beer you have." The few sips I had weren't bad.
I had planned for us to finish in about 2:41. Our time was 2:32. I liked that a lot.
And now the top ten things I learned about running a half marathon:
1) In January, I couldn't run for two minutes without stopping.
2) In April, I couldn't run a mile.
3) Intervals are cool. I run distances in 5 minute run/2 minute walk intervals. I can go farther, faster with that plan.
4) Running distances is better with a friend. I really like my alone time, and I don't ever mind running by myself during the week for 4-5 miles because it clears my head and helps me get ready for my day. But I can't imagine running for hours alone. It would be boring. And when one person wants to quit or take it easy, the other person can push her. Running with a friend is good.
5) During wet, cold races, the volunteers are in much worse shape than the runners. We were warm while we ran, and after a while you don't notice the rain as much. If I were standing still I would have been miserable.
6) Races stop traffic. It happens. In one instance, a police officer had stopped traffic for us to run past, and the lady in the very first car rolled down her window to cheer us on. That was awesome. She could have chosen to be grumpy about the interruption in her day, but instead she put some positive out in the world. High five, lady in the car!
7) When you're running in the rain you're pretty warm because you're running. Then you stop, and you get really cold because your clothes are soaking wet. No hot shower ever felt as good as the hot shower I took when I got home. No. Shower. Ever.
8) I am spoiled. Trey let me take his truck home because I was almost out of gas and he wanted to fill up my car. Then he went to the grocery store - my usual weekend chore - because he's the nicest person I know and I'm spoiled.
9) Running 13.1 miles burned somewhere between 1600 and 1700 calories. I might eat all day long.
10) Anyone can run a half marathon. Maybe not tomorrow, but it's possible for anyone who puts in the work. I couldn't run for two minutes in January.
My calves hurt and my feet are sore and I have a knot in my right butt cheek (weird, right?), but check it out. I'm a runner.