Months of preparation and years of longing went in to it, and in just 2 hours and 27 minutes, I was done running my very first half marathon. Up and down bridges and through neighborhoods, on blistered feet and a bruised toe, with a hurt back and cramping calves, I made it through the finish line.
And I didn't too shabby, if I do say so myself.
Today I woke up at 4:30 a.m. (alarm clock-less, as I had set my alarm for 5 a.m., but my body decided to wake me up at 4:30.) And I put on my clothes - comfortable shorts, a lose fititng T-shirt and my most worn in pair of running shoes. And I ate my breakfast - a two small bagels with peanut butter, to make sure that I had even carbs and calories to get my through the run, along with two bottles of water to make sure I was hydrated.
And then, I embarked on the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life: running 13.1 miles. I was so nervous coming into the race, and rightfully so, because I will say that it was no small feat or laughing matter - it was serious business.
I think I underestimated how difficult the race was going to be, because I had this picturesque vision in my head of myself running the 13.1 miles effortlessly, and that certainly wasn't the case. Thank goodness I had one of my best friends, Kristen, by my side to help me get through it. Without her, I don't think I could have made it.
The race started off easy enough. I found a nice stride within the first four miles and I was able to maintain it until my back started to ache and the bottoms of my feet began to blister. (Note to self: NEVER run a race in old running shoes again). And this was before we got to the biggest challenge of the race: running up and over a bridge, and then doing it again on the way back.
By the time I got to mile six, I was struggling. But I wasn't even halfway done, and I knew that I just to power through the race. We reached the bridge at this time, and I honestly couldn't tell you how I made it up and over that thing and back again. It was MISERABLE. And so hard. But I did it.
As we reached the bottom of the bridge, Kirsten took off to finish her race like a champ and I fell into my slow-paced stride as I just tried to make it to the finish line. I've heard that the last three miles are the easiest, but for me, they were definitely the hardest.
There were moments in those last three miles that I contemplated just giving up. My body was so sore, the bottoms of my feet were in so much pain from the fresh blisters and I was just so tired. But I've wanted to run a half marathon for the last three years, and I knew I would never forgive myself if I gave up.
So, I powered through it. And I listened to "The Dog Days are Over" by Florence and the Machine on repeat. (If you're ever looking for a great song to run to, I HIGHLY recommend it.)
All I really wanted was to finish within 2 hours and 30 minutes, and finish strong.
By the time I reached the last quarter of a mile, Kirsten had come back to run with me and help me finish. I was feeling miserable, but she told me that I was set to finish before 2 hours and 30 minutes, and that was all the encouragement I needed.
I garnered all of the stored energy and motivation within, (which wasn't much, by that time) and I sprinted my last quarter of a mile to the finish line.
Crossing through that finish line was the best thing I have ever done in my entire. Never before have I felt so much relief, pride, amazement and support. I had my family, my dog, my best friends and family friends watching me cross through, and it felt INCREDIBLE.
Yes, it was hard. Yes, it was physically draining. Yes, I wanted to give up at numerous points. But, I stuck through it and I made it! I can now cross running a half marathon off of my list of things to do, and my next step is to run my first marathon....but that will be a long into the future, so no need to worry about it now.
13.1 miles later, and I'm just so happy with myself for taking the iniative to train for this, run this and actually complete this. And now that I'm done, I am SO pumped and SO excited to continue on my journey toward losing the "freshman 15".
Today was just the motivation boost that I needed and I can't wait to see what the future holds for me and this journey.