The Whole Half

4 11 2013

I posted a few times about my race training, but really, there’s only so much I can say about it. I ran. Then I ran some more, and I kept on running. And now it’s over – Saturday was the Big Day; I completed the Happy Girl Dirty Half Marathon, all 13.1 miles of it. Being my first half, I had one and only one goal – to finish. Finish I did, in just under 2 and a half hours, placing 30th in my age group (out of 41) and 296th out of 446. Not bad for a first timer, I suppose. For some reason, no one had a podium ready for me when I zoomed across the finish line, not that I would have been able to speak anyway. But if they had, here’s what I would have said….

First of all, congratulations to all you amazing women today! Newbie or veteran, the conditions today sucked, and yet we all persevered. Hooray to us! As a first-timer myself, I would just like to extend my gratitude to a small list of those that helped get me here today:

A big thanks to my purple Brooks running shoes, who’s dropped heel and weird separated big toe pounded out every single mile with me. Bought when I first began training in April, they are being retired after today – well-deserved for 350 miles, a couple holes, and that super funky smell.

Thank you to the highway outside my house, in both directions, that witnessed the majority of my running. From the first two miles to the last 12, you were there for me all the way. Thanks for the trees to shade me, the breeze to cool me, and your endless asphalt that kept on going long after I turned back.

Thanks to the various gear I have collected over the last 6 months to aid in my endeavor. Some better than others, all have helped in one way or another: my hydration pack that I usually hate more than love but keeps me from getting thirsty; my Nike Fuel app on my phone that crashed on almost every important run but kept on strong for every dinky 4-miler; my neon-orange compression socks that kept my calves from cramping and me from getting hit by a car; and the glorious foam roller I spent many an evening with, rolling out the kinks and knots – I appreciate you all.

I would also like to thank the most loyal and enthusiastic running partner a gal could ask for – Simba. I must admit that some days I only ran so you could get some exercise, and because I just can’t say no to that face. You usually loved our runs much more than I did, and I really came to enjoy your company despite the many near-injuries I almost suffered due to your chasing instincts. Your short legs took you just over 7 miles one day – incredible! – and I think you would have tried to run this race with me, had they let you. I hope we have many, many more miles ahead of us.

running buddies, Happy Girl Dirty Half 2013

Simba came to cheer me on, braving the nasty weather and his disappointment at realizing he wasn’t coming with me

A shout-out and huge thanks to my beautiful bestie Nicole, who ran a fantastic race herself in today’s 5K: your constant encouragement has been such a beacon of motivation for me. Thank you for always cheering me on, thank you for the wonderful date-night carb-loading Friday night, and thank you for the smiles and hugs at the finish line. Don’t know what I would do without you!

To the ridiculously Amazing Ashlee, I wouldn’t be here at all were it not for you – in more ways than one. This whole race was your idea! You convinced me to register, then trained with me from afar. Always sharing your tips and advice and suggestions, and believing in me way more than I believed in myself, I feel like this accomplishment is as much yours as it is mine. Thank you for letting me borrow a shirt this morning, for hugging me at the starting line right before we took off, for showing me where I can be if I work hard enough. Seeing your victory today was more exciting to me than my own – finishing under 2 hours for 54th place overall!! I hope to reach your level of bad-ass some day.

Happy Girl Dirty Half 2013, Sisters OR

Right before the race, giddy with excitement (or maybe the cold….)

And of course, my deepest gratitude to my sweet dude, Justin. You had to put up with me through every step of this journey, from the elation the day I first ran 6 miles, to the pathetic whining most of the rest of the time – you never let up encouraging and inspiring me. You ran almost every long run with me, all in support of me rather than training of your own, and pushed me when I needed it most. You’ve rubbed the aches in my calves, iced the pain in my knees, massaged the knots in my back – all willingly and (usually) with a smile and a kiss. I pictured you during the race, slapping my rear to keep me moving just like you did that day I lost all motivation and wouldn’t run up the last hill. You were the one I needed as I came across the finish line, hyperventilating from whatever caused my airways to close up, and you were the one who calmed me down so I could finally fill my lungs again with the cold, wet air. You’ve been my biggest fan and most relentless cheerleader all along, and I partly did this just to make you proud, in case you ever need something to be able to brag about to your buddies at the bar. Thank you thank you, this would have been WAY more difficult with out you.

Last but not least, I would like to say thank you to…me. This is the first time I’ve set a goal, followed through, and reaped the rewards. Thank you legs, for building muscle and keeping me going; thank you brain, for not throwing up a mental block I couldn’t break down; and thank you heart, for knowing I could do this if I just kept working for it. I had so much help along the way, but in the end, it was me who took the leap to register for the race, and me who pushed my body almost to breaking to cross that finish line. Yes, I can admit it, I’m proud of myself. (Finally, Ashlee….) I have a lot to work on and much room for improvement, but the first one is surely the hardest, so it can only get easier from here! Seven months of grim determination to keep training, keep training, keep training – and now I’ve done it! And as predicted, I’m now addicted.

Who wants to run the next one with me?!

 

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