We did it! Byron and I finished the American River Parkway Half Marathon. Byron kept his 10K time. I was faster than most of my training times but slower than my 10K by less than 1min/mile.
I was so nervous starting. There were so many people there. I was fearful that I would have leg pain, trouble breathing or really just lack mental stamina. I did not want to straggle in last. James and the kids managed to come too despite their illnesses. I felt both guilty but happy to be with them. The children really wanted to go which was the deciding factor of all of this. Liam cried when I was leaving and agreed to rest in the car.
I started and was among 2 boisterous teams of women who ran 4 minutes and walked 1 minute. That was fun for a bit. My calves started hurting again but not as bad. It subsided by 2.5 miles. The path was incredible. Open at times with the sun and other times nestled in the trees. No cars!!!! We passed by drummers and a lot of water and Gatorade stations. Something I really appreciated. In my training I had placed water bottles at miles 4 and 8 so it was nice to just have something every mile or so. I looked for Byron on the turnaround hoping to cheer him on. I never saw him. He was far ahead. I did well the first half and got teary eyed on the turnaround. I made it halfway. People were cheering that we were headed towards the finish now. Wow. I might actually do this.
The second half was hard and got worse the closer I got to the finish line. I was ready to be done at mile 10. Really ready. I was tired. Most of the run, I never really got into my rhythm. I was distracted by all of the people. It was hard to keep running when they would walk. I would pas them, they would start running and pass me. We did this the whole way. At times when I realized we were approximating the same speed I thought, I could just do what they are doing, finish at the same time and expend far less energy. But I was here to run the whole way…my personal challenge. Afterall, why did I spend the last month increasing my distance religiously? When I started losing it I was jealous that they looked so refreshed and happy at mile 10 and I was dying. It just wasn’t fair! Some of them had makeup still intact! Okay, so I ran the whole way but slow enough their run/walks stayed in pace with my run. And the first group was way behind me.
I had to tell myself to stop competing. I was doing this for me, to finish, to run the whole time, to have fun. My marathon runner friend, Melissa told me to run slow and finish strong. I tried to hang onto that. I certainly will not finish near the end. I knew that but still grew competitive which took the joy of running away. I found a nice place with my training where I’d let go and really love the long runs. I forgot the Pogues song I would sing to myself on practice runs. So I chanted “I’m strong… I’m strong…I’m strong…” with my breaths and ran along the yellow line. Mile 12. That last mile seemed longer than the entire run! I told myself to not pay attention to the mile markers which in races drive me insane. But they were there in big green ink and I can’t miss them if I tried. 1 more to go, really 1.1 to go. I wanted to quit there. I was done. I could walk now and it would be respectable, right? No, no, no absolutely not. I worked too hard. I trudged along and there was NO way I was going to stop at the next water station for water. I knew if I did it would be over. However, I was very very thirsty. The aid station was here. I gave in, stopped and drank. I drank 3 cups of water and wanted more. Shit! My legs are numb and stiff and I don’t even know if I can walk. I walked a few feet, shook out my legs and ran. I WILL finish running. I had a sick family here waiting for me at the finish. I stopped a few minutes later, collected myself and started running again and heard others say they could see mile 13 and the finish around the corner. It still seemed so desolate to have the finish so soon. But 12 was a long time ago. One the teammates of the walk-runners told them to walk up the hill then give it everything they have to the finish. Oh…well then I will give it *everything* I have. The finish is around the corner and I will not let her beat me.
I came around the corner and over the hill. I saw 13, a cheering crowd and the finish a little further away. I started crying really hard and couldn’t breath at all from the crying. I ran as hard as I could. I saw my family, sobbed harder. I wanted to take them with me to the finish but I knew if I slowed down now I’d stop for good. I waved at them and kept my eyes on the finish. The finish line was clear this time. I looked at my time on the clock but it never registered in my brain what it was. A little girl gave me a finisher’s medal and someone else cut off my timing chip. I could barely lift my leg on the stool for them to cut it. I saw Luna and Liam and hugged them tight while sobbing. It felt so good to hold them and see them. I looked for Byron and James. I hugged James and cried. He thought I was upset and kept telling me I did well. No, James, I did this. I actually finished. Those last 2 miles were the hardest of the entire run. I wasn’t sure if I really would finish running.
And there was Byron looking great with a big smile. He finished long before I did. We did it!
So now what? I want to do another one in the next two months, train for the Ukiah triathlon (it’s that time again!) and if I continue on at this rate I want to do a full marathon (26.2) in NY in the fall.