You know, if you’d have told me a year ago that I’d be running a half marathon, I wouldn’t have believed you. All my life I’ve been slightly on the pudgy side, hated running and pretty much anything else active, and had no desire to strive to become a better person–especially not when it hurts.
But look what I did today. I ran 13.1 miles. And loved it.
I am not who I was a year ago.
Today Jake and Noah and I woke up at five in the morning, threw on our running clothes, and headed out. We arrived at the starting line with plenty of time to spare, so we picked up our race packets and wandered about for a bit before deciding to run across the street to WalMart to buy gloves and use a bathroom with no line.
Running to and from WalMart was a great warm up, and we arrived back at the starting line just in time to head out. We took it slow at first, finding our pace. Noah went up ahead, because he’s super legit and fast and stuff, and Jake and I hung back and stayed pretty chill. Jake is super legit and fast too, but he stuck with me for the majority of the race just because it was more fun that way.
We weren’t even through the second mile yet when I got a killer side stitch. The worst one I’ve ever had. I’m quite prone to side stitches, but usually they’re mild and short. But this one was awful–I couldn’t breathe, could barely walk, and it lasted for probably 20 minutes. Usually digging my fingers up under my ribcage helps, but even that didn’t work. So we lost a good bit of time there.
But finally the side stitch faded and I was able to get back into a steady pace. There was this guy in front of us wearing a blue shirt and blue Vibram shoes, and Jake said to me, “We’re going to beat that guy, right?” So we picked up the pace a bit to overtake him, and kept up that pace until we’d put some distance between us and him. And for most of the race, he kept up pretty well. We stayed ahead of him the whole time, but he was always in view. At least, until about mile 8 or so. Then we lost him. By the time I could see the finish line, he was nowhere to be seen.
The course was beautiful. We ran a little ways through the shopping centre, then along a main road for two miles or so before veering off onto a footpath past a river, which was really pretty, albeit somewhat swampish. Then we ran up through quite a bit of residential area with quaint, old-fashioned houses and such, and then around a track before heading back the way we came.
For the entire race I was saving up my energy. I had decided right from the beginning that I was going to have a strong finish. No matter how hard the rest of the race was, I was going to sprint the last bit and go all out across the finish line. That’s what I do for all my races. No matter how much it hurts, walking across the finish line is unacceptable. Anything short of all I’ve got is unacceptable.
So my goal had been to finish in under three hours. And for most of the race, it was looking like that would happen. But somewhere in the last couple of miles I hit a wall and slowed way down. I had to decide which was more important to me: meeting my time goal, or finishing strong. There was no way I’d be able to do both.
So I decided to scrap my time goal. I was bummed, but that’s just the way it had to be.
So I jogged the last two miles, walked a bit, and as soon as the finish line was in view I broke into a mad sprint. I was giving it all I had, and it hurt so badly, but the feeling of sprinting across that line was one of the best feelings in the world. Even though by that point I was so tired that sprinting was barely faster than a casual jog. But it felt like sprinting, so that was good enough for me. That was the strong finish I’d been looking forward to the whole time.
I received my finisher’s coin, had a nice drink of some healthy organic gatorade-wannabe that I got for free from work a few days ago, then headed to lunch where I stuffed my face with fish and vegetables.
All in all, a good day.
Now I hurt. A lot. Mainly my hips, ankles, and the bottoms of my feet. Apparently pounding 13 miles of pavement in next-to-barefoot shoes is not the best for your soles. But whatever. And my right ankle…oh my gosh, it’s killing me. But it’s the good kind of pain. It’s the “I did something awesome” kind of pain.
Tonight it’s my joints. Tomorrow it’ll be my muscles. But I sure love this feeling.
Thirteen miles and change. Three hours, ten minutes. Two very sore feet. One awesome day.
And what’s awesome is that today’s thirteen miles makes for a total of 100 miles on this pair of running shoes. They’ve been through a lot with me. Favourite running shoes ever!
So what’s next, you ask?
Well, obviously now that I’ve done the half, the whole will have to follow. You can’t just stop at a half. Or, at least, I can’t. So…I’m moving out of the country in June, and the full marathon will come sometime before that. Not sure when. Not sure how. But it’s going to happen. Training will start ASAP…but in the meantime, I sleep.