When the beau and I were approaching turning 30 last year, we made our 30 before 30 list–you know that list of 30 things we wanted to accomplish before reaching that milestone age. I’d love to be sitting here saying that we crossed everything off that list. Unfortunately, we got the list down to 15 seeing that that would be more manageable, but that didn’t quite happen either. I think at the time, I was really ashamed for not doing that and heaped guilt onto myself so much so I even deleted the posts around here that I had made about that list. In the spirit of vulnerability, I’ll dig that out and re-post soon. Perhaps now I should start working on my 40 before 40 list. Haha…
Although there was a sense of grief for not getting that list completely checked off, the one thing that really haunted me was the half-marathon. Deciding that I wouldn’t live in a state of regret, I vowed that I would at least finish it within my 30th year of life. I’m very proud to say that this weekend, that happened. As you may have read in my intro to running post right after we started our training, running wasn’t just about getting healthy and completing a goal, but being the best steward of the life (and legs) that we have so graciously been given.
There was also this idea for me that completing this was a dream I’d always had, and I had to do something to make it happen. Dreams are good, but they don’t get you anywhere most of the time unless you have some accountability. Enter the deadline.
When first hearing about Run the Bluegrass, the Beau and I discussed it and decided to hop on board. What a better way to finish our first marathon in our own town (okay–we claim Lexington as ours even though it’s not officially) and it was touted as being one of America’s prettiest Half-Marathons. We signed up. We had no idea it was also going to be extraordinarily full of those rolling Kentucky hills.
We started training after our second 5K in November, registering at the early, early bird rate ensuring that if we had money on the line, we’d be more likely to train. I looked up training plans and found one that was solely a running planning, jotted it all down in my Erin Condren planner and in December, we set to training. We had about 17 weeks at that point. We didn’t get in much running the week of Christmas due to being sick and the holidays, but overall, felt pretty good about our plan at the time.
Let me just state right here that training is rough. Not only is training for a half-marathon tough regardless of your age, fitness level or experience, when you have quite a bit of weight on you that you need to shed, it’s even tougher. More on that to come…
We did our best for what we knew how. We stuck to our plan (for the most part) and thank the good lord above, got connected with LexRunLadies at the perfect time. I was able to join on two group runs and even though my pace was much slower than all those other ladies (and gents) out there running, having a support community made such a difference in my training. I’m so thankful that there are exciting training plans for the summer and into the fall already underway.
So March 31st came and although I had been on part of the course before with the ladies, it’s hard to really conceptualize what 13.1 miles is going to look like and more importantly feel like.
We picked up our packet the day before and were stoked to get our shirts and numbers. It still seemed very surreal at that point. I could not believe we were actual going to run a half-marathon.
It could not have been a more perfect morning. Temps starting out in the 50’s with it forecasted to be no warmer than 70. It was sunny to start out, but ended up being very overcast all day, which was perfect. We went to bed early the night before (per usual) and woke up at our usual (early) time. We got our gear on and went out for a walk/run to warm up our legs. We had lots of time before we had to be at the course, so we both read a bit and I got real sleepy. That adrenaline picked back up though once we got in the car and was close to the course–seeing all the cars and taillights.
Getting to the course, we saw a few familiar faces, got a pic with the Ladies and shared a few hugs and met some fellow runners that I hadn’t even met yet from our group. Krissie as always was so encouraging and I was stoked to finally meet Lydia, a fellow first timer! After seeing a few other friends from church who were running, we made our way to the starting line. We continually moved toward the back, knowing that my emotional and mental state would be much better having fewer people passing me at the start.
I kept it slow and steady knowing some of the hills that were awaiting me and that I didn’t want to run out of steam too fast. I don’t have a Garmin or anything super fancy to track my pace and time, but I felt like I was doing good. Breathing was good. Pace felt just right. Right before getting to the first water station at around 2.75 miles, I met up with Abby and Daphne her dog wearing running shoes. Abbi was the end. The gal whom I later became to know as the sweeper. She was to keep a 16 minute pace and be the last “runner” although she walked almost the entire way. Those around me were mostly walking. Several had started running, but after encountering the hills, quickly turned to a solid walk. My short legs even at my standard running pace were barely keeping up with those walkers.
Not gonna lie. I was discouraged. I had started out saying I just wanted to finish this race. Then I said I wanted to finish and not come in last (I know that someone has to come in last, I just did not want it to be me). The week of, I said I wanted to finish in 3:30. Knowing that before I had even gotten to mile 3, I was already with the “sweeper”–I was not feeling it. Why in the world had I signed up to do this?
Then I remembered what a dear friend & colleague shared with me earlier this week about our professional lives. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Let me state that again. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
From that point on, those six words rang through my mind over and over and over. I kept a smile on my face thinking of all those folks I was running for. Those who were on my mental list. Those who had been encouraging me all week. Those who had been my cheerleaders for the entire training period. I had my phone on me and from time to time would take a look at the tweets and one fun text from a student encouraging me to press on. No one was going to steal the joy that I was going to have at that finish line.
I kept trucking on, walking up hills and running fast down them and in the few straight stretches. There was a nasty S-curve at one point that I just was over before even starting to walk it. Then I remembered those who would have loved to have walked it but can’t. “Suck it up Faith and walk up this nasty hill for them.”
There was nothing like seeing a crew of folks standing near the barn close to the finish and all of a sudden seeing neon signs being held up. Then I recognized the Beau. And then Krissie and Nathan with his ‘stache. 🙂 I saw Maria, my accountability partner. Our friends from church. Our small group family. A baby stroller–little Grayson had made the trip too. Let me just tell you, I could barely hold back the tears.
Seeing those smiles and encouragement really pushed me across the finish line. Maria joined me for the last stretch and it was so great to have her there and share in a really incredible moment. Hearing the cheers from those strangers at the finish was amazing. And having that medal placed around my neck was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Let me state again–this course is very tough. The part that I had not ran before was brutal. I did not finish in 3:30. I was not last–but not far beyond the last. I actually didn’t even come in last in my age group, which honestly, I’m completely shocked by.
I am very proud. I didn’t give up. I stopped comparing myself to others and finished with a smile. I’m excited about what’s next. Have a few 5K’s and 10K’s on tap to really zone in my training and looking forward to a new perspective when I complete the Iron Horse Half in October.
Can’t wait to getting one of those 13.1 stickers for my car and (as Lydia said) recalling each time I see it just exactly what I’m capable of. Tough to have a pity party for yourself with that on the back of your car.