I have so many mixed emotions about the half marathon, and I’m trying to formulate coherent thoughts on it, but in my brain, I’m not really succeeding.
My mom and I drove to Wichita (a couple of hours away) on Friday afternoon, picked up our packets, and met up with my friend Liz. We went out to dinner and then to a sporting goods store for Gu replenishment, and back to the hotel. I had spent every day since Sunday night pretty much immobile, sleeping in the recliner, trying to get healthy after whatever sickness my husband passed on hit me and left me in its wake. There was one emergency trip to the grocery store for milk sometime in the middle of the week, but other than dropping off and picking up at school, I didn’t leave the house. I slept every day, but was up most nights coughing or being woken up by one of the children coughing.
So by Saturday morning, the first aerobic exercise I had done in almost a week was the 80s aerobic warm-up. I still had congestion in my throat and lungs, but I felt human. Scared to death of the race, but human.
It started off pretty well. I kept my pace really, really slow but kept going….until about mile 4. Of 13. At that point, I had to start taking walking breaks, and by mile 8, I had pretty much lost all steam. I knew from training that I could do better than that…I had run ten miles just a couple of weeks prior, but the unintentional tapering that I had done in those last fourteen days before the race took a major toll.
I have no idea what would have happened if I had been healthy and continued to run consistently until the end. I would like to think that I would have finished better than 483rd out of 525 runners, and faster than 3 hours and 10 minutes. But who knows. Maybe it was all mental at that point and it wouldn’t have made any difference.
Am I disappointed? Yeah. By the end of the week, all I wanted to do was finish. But seeing the time on the clock as I did cross the line wasn’t exactly the sight I was hoping for. Fourteen weeks, I trained. I felt good. Most runs left me feeling proud and hopeful, albeit exhausted. Some were better than others, but I did them, and I felt myself getting stronger and pushing myself further.
The last two weeks, though, were like a sucker punch to all of the hard work that I had done. First the knee pain, then the virus (or whatever it was).
But am I proud? Yeah. I am. I finished. Slowly, and barely. There were many times in the last loooooong three miles that I wanted to quit. I honestly didn’t know if I could take another step. But my mom had finished the 5K and walked back three miles to meet me (and yeah, I almost cried when I saw her, wearing her medal and carrying her wine glass full of chocolate), so quitting wasn’t an option. And what would I have done anyway? Sat down on the sidewalk for a while? My knees hurt, the balls of my feet hurt, my poor squished toes hurt, but they weren’t going to get any better until I crossed the finish line and sat down (or for quite a while afterwards, it turns out).
And then, at mile 12, I saw Liz (who had just finished the half marathon herself), waiting at the corner to meet us. The three of us went in together (them for the second time, me just thrilled to be seeing it once) and more than three hours after I started, it was over.
But hey. No matter how I did, or how long it took, my time was a personal best. And it can only get better from here on out (I hope).
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