The sun was out, it was about 50 degrees, & there I stood with about 100 other people waiting to start my very first half marathon. My Fiance was there with our little puppy Penny. I was nervous, but mainly just proud to be there. And, when the countdown started, I got in line & I just went for it.
For the first two miles, I remember noticing random sports clothing being tossed onto the ground. I also remember reading a shirt that said, “Please god, let there be someone behind me to see this.” It wasn’t until the third mile that I started having my doubts, as we headed up a hill that seemed to be forever long. Because I was still with the group, I thought I’d make light of things and asked loudly, “Is anyone else thinking, Pizza, Pizza Pizza?” No one answered. Awkward…
Tim and Penny were around the next corner, which was really sweet motivation, and I was still running into mile 4 when they passed me, Tim telling me that I could do this.
How lucky am I for this kind of support?
Mile 5 was when I stopped to walk, but I was proud for it only being for a few seconds. I was well aware of my time, which sadly dropped off in the loop that took me from mile 5-7ish. But there were Tim & Penny again. Waiting at the loop both times I came across it, the second time me begging Tim, “I need aspirin!”
After the loop, we drop into a section of trail that lasts about a mile and a half, leading us to ‘Doomsday Hill’; a steep incline that lasts maybe a quarter mile. Mile 9. This was when I really was hating myself for doing this; when I’m pretty sure my subconscious was screaming, “You’re not going to make it!”
At the top of ‘Doomsday’ they handed out these weird jelly packs, which upset my stomach. Bad idea, but I kept going somehow.
Toward the bottom of a hill, when neighborhoods turn back into city, I started to get excited. My right knee was killing me at this point, but I had somehow made it this far, which was HUGE to me. I focused on the clock tower that’s located in the park downtown, just a few blocks from where I knew the finish line would be. And then I started to panic.
There is NO WAY that THAT is two miles away. It looks more like 5+. Crap. Crap.
Just then a small woman came up from behind me. I wish I had gotten her name. She said to me, “We’ve got this.” Which I loved because, any of those who were passing me saying, “You can do this.” made me feel small for some reason. “WE” sounded much better. “Yes we can!” I responded, trying to keep up with her, limping as I did.
“I’ve heard it’s the last few miles that are the worst.” She said to me, which made me feel great knowing I wasn’t the only first timer trying to run it all.
“That’s probably because of how much pain you’re in.”
“My knee is killing me.” She said.
“Mine too – my right knee.”
“It started back on mile seven.” She responded again.
“That’s funny, so did mine. What’s with mile seven?”
Then she started to get a little further ahead of me, both of us stopping to walk every now & again.
She doesn’t know it, but she kept me in a run instead of just a limping walk. So, thank you, whoever you were. It meant a lot.
I remember the last few blocks like a blur. There were people at every corner. “Just three more blocks.” “Just two more blocks.” “One more block, you can do it!” And then I remember the man covered in University of Montana garb, to whom I of course said, “Go Griz” to. And then I was there. I was in the midst of the finish line & then the tears came; me doing everything I possibly could to tuck them away as Tim proceeded to take a ton of finish line photos.
I cried in his arms a little, then I saw you could get a photo, so I took one. Then I remembered pizza & food, limping through the pain, & picking up donuts & cookies, chocolate milk & pizza. Yeah, the stuff you probably shouldn’t be eating after a half marathon… but I figured, you know what? I freaking deserve this.
I still cannot believe I did it.
PS. If you’re wondering what my training plan was, it’s Couch to Half Marathon in 20 Weeks from Women’s Running.
PSS. I also write a blog called “How To Run A Half Marathon” in correlation with this one. You can find it HERE.