My last guest post is from Sara at Words to Run By. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Sara is my pace coach and absolutely fabulous! One of the best things about training for this half marathon has been all the new friends I’ve made and Sara is at the top of that list. Sara is constantly pushing us to keep going and be better. Thanks, Sara. Tomorrow wouldn’t be happening without you and I’m doing it for Darlene!
I remember my first half marathon like it was yesterday – every detail, I know I will never be able to forget it.
Not only that, I can recall the months, weeks and days leading up to the race. I started out barely being able to run a mile; then I ran two, four, eight and ten. I went from wearing five-year old sweats to having a section in my closet devoted to running apparel. I lost 30 pounds, my waist shrunk three sizes and my clothes fit a lot looser than they used to. I went from being reserved with little to no self-esteem (Me? Run? 13.1 miles? Yeah, right.) to joining a running club to (gulp) run with others every Saturday. I gained confidence in my abilities as the miles added up – maybe I could do this. I went off anti-depressant medications after most of my adolescent and adult life because exercise (or fresh air!) made me happy.
In essence, running changed my life. I was a different person because I decided to run a half marathon – that’s not exactly something to forget.
That, of course, is not to say it was easy. In fact, in preparing for a late summer race, my training was downright miserable at times in 90-degree heat and 90% humidity. Like any love-affair, my relationship with running was tumultuous, to say the least – on a good day I was soaring above the clouds, smooth and effortless, as I kicked out six miles like it was nothing. Then a day later, to my despair, my legs could barely carry my body six feet. Or sometimes, my body was willing, but my mind just wasn’t in it. I would set out for a run only to get a half a mile down the road before I felt defeated and gave up. Yet, once again, I would have an exciting run or set a new PR that would keep me coming back for more.
Running kept me on my toes, but in a positive way – I never knew what to expect from it, but what I did know was that I would never be disappointed in it as long as I laced up my shoes and set foot out the door. Still, I worried as the day of my first half approached – what f I had a bad race? So many things could go wrong. My brain instantaneously made a list: I could get sick; my running partner could get sick; I could cramp up; I could have an off-day; I could be late to the start line; I could lose my bib; I could get a stomach ache; I could run out of GU; I could have to go to the bathroom (something I had not yet fathomed doing on a race course); I could step off a curb and break my ankle on Friday night; My car might not start; I could take too long and not be able to finish the race. Bottom line? My mind wouldn’t let me forget – a lot could go wrong. Running had done so much for me already, should I really expect much more?
Despite my fears, I made it to the Start Line on race day. And when the gun went off sounding the start of the race, all of my fears faded away. I was running and there was no way I was going to have a bad race. In fact, as I was running and at Mile 12, I told my running partner, “This sucks. I’m never doing this again!” She said, “Yeah, right – you love it and you are going to do it again and again.”
My running partner was right. I realized, in that moment, I did love running. I loved running because of the way it made me feel; because of the people I had met and formed friendships with; because I was healthier; because of the self-confidence I had gained; and because I was doing something not many others had.
This season, I had the privilege of coaching Sarah and many other runners in the MIT 13 minute pace group. In doing so, I got to watch these individuals embark on a journey not so different from my own. Seeing them grow as not only runners, but as people has been another great experience in my life. Not unlike my first race, I remember the first day of MIT winter session and I remember seeing all the new – and somewhat anxious – faces. We dubbed ourselves the Lucky 13’s (although rather unlucky in reality!) and bonded as only runners can do. Since that day, these ladies and gentleman have conquered great obstacles – ice, snow, below zero running temperatures, monsoon rains, endless miles, near-floods, injury, pain and heartbreak. They had had happy times – including a run with Bart Yasso himself – and even sad times – like being sidelined early in the season due to injury. They have been to physical therapy, sacrificed time and money, and probably even sleep to accomplish their goals. Not to mention, what they would do for a fellow teammate in need. The support, love, encouragement, humor and enthusiasm I have found with Sarah and the other Lucky 13’s is insurmountable. They have conquered it all and come out stronger people on the other side.
So, what knowledge can I impart on you that you haven’t already learned yourselves? You are prepared, you’ve worked hard, and you can do this. Above all else, have fun and remember why you started running in the first place. Then, think of all you have learned since then and all the relationships you have formed and know, we’re all right there – running with you until you cross the Finish Line.
Alright, that’s it for the half marathon madness! One more day to enter my giveaway HERE. I’ll be back on Saturday and next week with winners and recaps. Thanks again to all my guest posters! If you guest posted this week, make sure to go give yourself an extra entry in to my giveaway–you earned it!