This weekend I ran my first 1/2 marathon. It was amazing. It was hard. It was hot. It was hilly. It was such an accomplishment. My friend Heather and I , who run together weekly, both signed up to do this race. She had signed up earlier than me and I hesitated and finally commited several weeks later. I thought I was signing up to support my friend on this big day and to do something together. But as life often does, I got so much more than I had planned for. Bare with me while I recap:
We met early in the morning and drove out to the race. It was a trail run in a state forest not too far from home. We were chatty and excited. Ready to run! We got to the starting line, a few butterflies in my belly but smiling Heather was next to me and I felt good. The race starts and off we go. First 2 miles you hustle along with people all around you. You are caught up in a stream like a fish just moving forward as you pass some and others pull ahead. We are smiling, chatting and feeling good. Then we hit the base of a pretty long hill (maybe 1 1/2 miles) and it started to kick my butt. My mind starts to worry about the rest of the race. Can I do this? Will I slow Heather down? All the what ifs send me in a panic. It was something I have never felt. I went from feeling great to falling apart in my head about my abilities. But we get to the top. I ditch my annoying fuel belt and decide to depend on the water stations to get me through. Feeling lighter and better we run flat for a few miles and I run past my Physical Therapist I used to see last year. She motivates me to keep going. The power of positive words charging my run. The middle of the race goes OK, but I am just not myself, something is off. In all of our training runs, I never had such a bad run as I did on race day. But all along there is Heather, a constant support who stayed with me because we had agreed before the race that we would finish together.
By mile 10, I was toast. The hills seemed steeper, the miles longer and the sun hotter. I was holding Heather back but she stayed with me and I was so thankful, even as I kept saying "go ahead." Heather's constant words of encouragement were pulling me along. Her smile and determination were what I wish I could have mustered for her as well. She gave me the last sips of her water without hesitation. She was having a rock star day and I am so proud of her.
As we neared the end I saw the crowds at the finish, I saw all of our kids ringing cow bells and jumping up and down. I ran to them, I ran to the finish and felt the literal last drop of energy I had in me to get there! Heather and I finished together and shared a big hug that only we both could understand what it meant. It wasn't my legs that got me to the end, it was the power of friendship. Thanks H.