It’s been a week now and my body is readjusting to normal and my brain is getting off its high from my first half-marathon. The whole thing was an experience I never thought I would go through because it wasn’t ever an interest to me and I figured I can’t do it. Now I am working on my next one. This time with the intention of run/walking to set a baseline for my time. Yes, I said it. I want to set a time to work from.
It started months and months ago. One of the women I work with, Sheryl, kept telling me I should run a marathon. The thought of her really thinking that I could do it was really nice but to actually run anything was just not going to happen. I don’t know how to run properly, and I don’t like how it feels when I do run, which isn’t often. The only thing I found appealing about it was that the training would get me fit so I agreed to do it. After a bit of time though, as with most things I do, I lost interest and figured if she ever asked me, I would tell her I forgot. But she persisted and I finally went ahead and signed up for the SLO marathon/half-marathon. With two months ahead of me, I started following a training program half seriously but since I registered, I figured I should do something. I walked, walked, walked and walked some more, but it never went past 8 miles. I figured at some point I just need to accept that on race day, I’ll have to let momentum take over because I ran out of places to walk in town.
On the day before the race, I drove into the Madonna Expo to pick up my packet. My heart started racing and I got overwhelmed with multiple emotions and it finally hit me, I’m going to do a 13.1 mile race the next morning starting at 6:30am. Oh I forgot to mention that a couple weeks prior, I walked most of the route just to make sure I knew what was coming-no stone unturned in my life because I’m not a fan of surprise in anything.
The night of the race, I set two alarm clocks, asked small paul to put himself to bed and went to bed at 7:30pm knowing if I got an hour or two through the night it would be more than I’d had in the last three nights. I woke up every 30 minutes or so to make sure time was progressing like it’s supposed to, having short dreams of missing the race all together, opening my eyes to make sure I don’t miss the alarm. It was an OCD night. While this is happening, my brain keeps wondering if I’m going to be able to go to the bathroom before I leave the house at 5:30 because I don’t know if I could go in a porta potty. Seriously! This was a major concern.
I got up before the alarm at 4:30am. Got ready in a very surreal state of mind and walked up to the high school to the start location. It was completely dark out and my only guide was the distant voice of the announcer up the hill. The place was packed with some 2000 people. Some in groups, some alone, some dancing in place, others huddled to keep themselves warm, some cheering others on, others praying in groups. It was a wide array of people and I was alone. I wanted to do this alone to make it mine for me to take the experience without external motivators or detractors. But standing in the dark surrounded by people was very lonely. For some reason, someone else must have felt it too because out of the blue, I had a walking partner who entered alone as well. Her name was Sue and she lives up north. We helped each other keep going when it was hard, and cheered each other on when it wasn’t so hard.
It was an amazing journey because all of me was somehow changing as the race progressed. My first thought when the race started was immediate fear and excitement. There was no way to turn back at that point and the only way to go was forward. Being with Sue kept me in check. I had planned on running part of the race but knew that having not trained for it at all would be a bad idea and having her there not wanting to run made it safe for me not to. As we were going, a woman I know came riding by on her bike telling me she came to find me to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone. TRIP. I only know her from a couple of weeks ago but she was insistent on being a cheerleader for me. This made me want to do it more. As we hit the 2 mile mark, we were passing by my house. I thought about how cool it would be if the little guy was outside to watch me but I knew he was still sleeping, which made me think about how cool that is. Mom is out racing while son is dreaming about Star Wars legos I’m sure.
It went on and one. The sky changed from dark to light. The day started but 2000 people were already going. At around the 6 mile mark, I was rubbing my leg. It was starting to talk to me, telling me to stop doing this but I knew that at this point, I would merely feel the pain when I was done. Not too longer after that, something inside me shot me with power that I had never felt. It was so exhilarating and amazing. I wanted to run as fast as I could. This surge of energy was all I needed to stop any doubt or fatigue I had. It was amazing. As the road kept going I started having some serious questions about me. I questioned why it has taken me so long to start taking care of me, thinking about the things in my life that I shouldn’t have done and how those memories affect how I look at the world. I started to feel regret about those things that shouldn’t have been but then kept coming back to the moment and remembering that all of that shit brought me here today to do this. It’s my only to move forward and not dwell on the past. My brain went to the future and how much I could do from this point. I’ve made a wish list this year of things I want to do. They are no longer wishes but things that I need to do for me
I got to a point when I had to go pee. I saw a porta-potty. I had to do it but my hands where swollen. I’d been walking over 8 miles without stopping and I knew if I stopped it would hurt me worse than not stopping. I told myself I was going to listen to my body and she is telling me it’s time to relieve myself. I did. Giggling about how silly I must look trying to do something I do several times a day. When I got back on the road, Sue was waiting for me. At that point, I wanted to confirm how important she was to me. I just let the words come out and told her that no matter what happens, she is going to be part of my journey because I don’t know what would have happened if she wasn’t with me. She told me her thoughts and without anything more to say we knew after we got to the finish line, we would say good bye and move on. It was one of the purest moments in my life ever.
At the 10 mile mark, I hit the wall. I could see the end. I know the route. It’s close to my house. My body just tensed up and it HURT. Sue gave me Gu and told me to slowly suck on it. It was gross. It was disgusting. It was crack in gel form and it was what I must have needed because as we were making it to the last mile, I was giggling and taking pictures of people and just not caring because I was going to be done and it was going to be NOW.
I did it. I know people have done it before me and they will do it after me. I know that our experiences will feel unique to us but we have all felt the same thing. I know that at the point that I crossed the finish line, I became a different person. I don’t know how to put words to it but I feel different. At this point, I won’t let me stop me from doing things I want to do. I can’t. I did something I was never going to do because it seemed too hard. Now I have no excuses
**I want to thank Sheryl Collmer for being the person who told me I needed to do this. Without her words and constant reminder of what I could do, I would never have done it.