As some of you may know, I ran my first half marathon last week. *pauses to accept applause and accolades*
How was it, you ask? Oh, it was amazing! It wasn’t hard at all. I breezed right through it, crossed the finish line and then prepared a five course lunch for me and my friends.
HAHAHA. Just kidding. It was terrible. It was brutal. I almost gave up. At one point, I cried. It was soul crushing, painful to just move agony that went on for over two hours. And I can’t wait to do it again.
Me and Megan were SO PUMPED. All week. We kept texting each other, ARE YOU PUMPED? I’M SO PUMPED! LOOK AT HOW PUMPED I AM! I JUST PUNCHED MYSELF IN THE FACE AND RAN AROUND THE BLOCK NAKED. THAT’S PRETTY FREAKING PUMPED. I’m sure we were annoying to all other life forms other than ourselves.
I became one of those people that had to make sure everyone knew I was running this half. Me at the grocery store:
Cashier: Paper or Plastic?
Me: Paper. I might need it to start a campfire. I’m heading up to Cooks Forest this weekend to run the half marathon.
Me at the post office:
Post office lady: Did you need to overnight this package?
Me: I bet it can’t get there faster than I can run a half marathon. I’m running one this weekend. Cooks Forest. That’s 13.1 miles.
Me at the gynecologist:
Gyne: Well, everything looks good here!
Me: Good! I wouldn’t want my uterus to fall out while I’m running my half marathon. Did I mention that I’m running one? This weekend? Cooks Forest? WOO, that’s cold.
You get the idea.
By the time Friday rolled around, I was so excited I damn near stroked out. I couldn’t figure out why I was so worked up about running 13.1 miles, which if you think about it, is pretty damn far. And for no REAL reason. I just set this goal, I worked to achieve it, and the day was almost upon us.
I was in charge of the preparation and transport of our carb-laden pre race feast. I’m not much of a cook, but I took this challenge very, very seriously. After some serious research (and by research I mean a cursory search of my pantry to see what I had on hand), I found a small bag of Quinoa.
Here’s the thing about Quinoa. It starts out real small, like a grain, but when you cook it, it plumps up, like to the size of a Chevy, so that one small bag gave me enough Quinoa to feed the entire roster of people running the Cooks Forest Half Marathon the next day.
Whatevs. I also know that red wine is full of sugars and carbs, so I grabbed two bottles of that, too. Then I grabbed two bottles of champagne, because we needed SOMETHING to celebrate our run with. Then I decided that I could not risk crappy coffee the morning of the race, so I grabbed and packed my Keurig.
I also grabbed some high thread count sheets (gotta rest up before the race!) and some fluffy towels for the post race shower. I looked at the mountain of crap I had ready to load in the Jeep, and I thought real hard about my life.
Used to be camping was grabbing a tent and a case of beer, and not always in that order. Now I was taking champagne and a German engineered coffee maker with me. To run 13 miles. In the woods. There are moments when I really don’t know myself anymore.
We get to camp, get settled, stuff our faces, wash it down with wine, and hit the sack early. Race day dawns and it is perfect running weather (for me, anyway) – overcast and in the 40s. As you can imagine, we were PUMPED.
The starting line was a very short drive from Matt’s cabin (that’s Megan’s boyfriend. He has a camp 5 minutes from the race, so we stayed there. It totally worked out, because Matt and Casey have a bromance. It’s cute. They text each other and once, Matt taught Casey how to Dougie), and as soon as I saw the people milling around, my palms got sweaty.
HOLY SHIT, I thought. I’m going to do this. I am going to start here and run 13.1 miles back to here and Casey is going to take my picture and there is no going back because I’ve told literally every single person I’ve seen for the past two months that I’m running this.
I see my friend Cassie (of this blog and that blog) and jump up and down in her face, ARE YOU READY? ARE YOU PUMPED? Our friend Katie is also there, and she finds us in time to line up with to start. I tell all of them, see you at the finish line. Meaning when I get in, as every single one of those ladies can smoke my ass (I just started running people, cut me some slack).
I see Casey on the sideline. I wave and shout out that I love him, and make the international hand signal for ‘make sure to take pictures’. I slip in my ear buds and just like that, it’s time to go.
I settle into a nice pace, one that I’m happy with, but one that clearly is far slower than the rest of the racers. I quickly get passed by 80% of the pack, including elderly people, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m not there to win, I’m just there to finish.
The first six miles were easy peasey lemon squeezy. It was an out and back race, so there was a turn around, meaning that I got to see all of the people as they were on their way back. I see Katie first, then Megan, then Cassie. It lifted my spirits and I sailed on to mile 8 and 9 without feeling too bad at all.
I’m going say I hit the wall at mile ten. Half veterans told me that once you hit mile ten, the rest is cake. That you mentally know you’re almost done and you fly in on the rush of that knowledge. Those people are dirty, dirty liars.
By mile 11, I was hating my life and every person who happened to be alive at that moment. I was also cured of the desire to ever, ever run a full marathon. I was thinking about never running again, ever.
By mile 12, I was barely running. I was sort of half running, half shuffling. I was ruffling. I was shrunning. I was losing my will to finish. Then a lady in yellow sort of ran (ruffled) up next to me. We looked like two half dead zombies decked out in Brooks running gear. We silently acknowlged that yes, we both wanted to be dead, but let’s finish this together.
We shrunned the last mile in silence. Just our breath and the scruffy sound of our shoes hitting the pavement. It was close to the end, and the bystanders started cheering us on – you’re almost there! The finish line is around the bend!
Those people were also dirty liars, because I didn’t see the finish line for another two agonizing minutes. But when I did, oh when I did, it was the most glorious sight I’ve ever seen. I wanted to finish strong. I look over at my silent savior, the woman who’s presence helped me pull through, and I said ‘Wanna race?’ She looked right back at me, huge smile, and said ‘Bring it’.
We both dug down deep and managed to sprint the last couple hundred feet to the finish line. I fucking did it. WE fucking did it! We high fived and both got engulfed in our respective friends and family circle. I never even got her name.
I saw Cassie, huge smile on her face. She made her time and she was pumped. Megan and Katie both ran sub two hours (so so proud of my Megels!!). And me, what did I run? Well, I set a goal to run this, my first half marathon, between 2:15 and 2:30. And I ran a 2:15. Yeah, I was pretty happy with that.
Casey, our assigned photographer, got a great shot of Megan coming across the finish line:
And here is me:
You may notice I’m not actually in that picture. That’s because Casey wasn’t expecting me to take off at a sprint, so I crossed the finish line before he could get the picture. You’ll just have to trust me. I was there. And I can’t wait to do it again.
Yours in Two Weeks Till the Tough Mudder,