It all started with a dare. I’ve never been an athlete. I’d never ran a mile… I’ve stood at the finish line several times, cheering my husband on. The energy and excitement, the comradery, it’s infectious. At the same time I’d always felt a little jealous that I wasn’t really a part of it because I was just the one on the sidelines.
A conversation I had with my brother-in-law (who runs the Surf City half every year with my husband Lance);
“That’s so cool you guys can do that. I wish I could.”
“Why don’t you?”
“I can’t run.”
“Why can’t you?”
“…hmmmm.” The tone in his voice and expression on his face very clearly said “I dare you”. So now I HAVE TO do it!
Training day 1, I put on my running shoes and got started. Day 7 was my first “long run”, 2 miles, I almost died. Then I knew I was going to need help so I reached out. I picked the brains of the Crave PT trainers as well as sought nutritional/supplemental advice from the guys at Max Muscle. I researched and read blogs. I developed relationships with other runners and sought advice from them as well.
Over the next 16 weeks I stumbled over so many obstacles. Bloody toes (who know you had to keep you toenails short), shin splints, sore knees, blisters on the tips of my toes, blisters on the side of my toes, blisters on my heals, nausea and dizziness, extreme fatigue, cramps in muscles I didn’t even know I had. Every time I got over one hurdle, I came across another. My last week of training I was convinced that I would never feel ready, I probably wouldn’t finish.
Finally race day came. We were up by 4 am, out the door by 5. The energy was strong all around us. Everyone was excited, I was nervous. It was dark and the air was wet and cold. I didn’t feel cold though, I was too anxious to get this done.
The first 4 miles were great, my energy was up and we climbed the first big hill. “Piece of cake. We’ve got this.” We came to the Golden Gate Bridge, over, then back across. This is where it got tough. In my mind, I was thinking that after the bridge we only had 1 or two more hills. But no, they just kept coming. We’d get to the top of one, “Ok, that’s the last one”… then turn a corner and there’s another! At mile 10 I said to myself “What was I thinking? Why would I sign up for this?” Mile 11, “I’m done. I can’t go another step.”
Then a t-shirt runs by that says “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.” Inspiration, and I tell myself “I’ve done all this work, I’ve come this far, I have to finish”… The voice in my earbuds says “12 miles” and I say “Thank God, only 1.1 miles to go”. Half a mile later I see the 12 mile marker on the route “Nooooooo! I still have 1.1 miles!?! I’m NEVER doing this again!”
I see see the finish line. Lance grabs my hand and we cross together! I didn’t have an immediate sense of joy and pride for finishing. Mostly I felt like my body was going to fall apart, nauseous and tired. It took about 10 minutes, half a banana and a few sips of protein before it finally set it that “I DID THIS!”
Over 16 weeks of preparing I realized that training for a half marathon is so much more than just running a lot. It’s a lifestyle that you have to learn, and you have to practice.
Everything you put into your body, everything you do, every hour you sleep, it all matters. It all matters ALL THE TIME, not just on run days. I’ve learned that running is more than just physically tasking.
It’s mentally and emotionally hard. It’s so easy to tell yourself you’re tired, it’s too hot, you’re too short of breath and can’t keep moving, after running you’re too tired to strength train.
There were days when I felt great, I could conquer this goal no problem. Other days I was so discouraged I was sure I would never finish and almost quit.
Running this race is the hardest thing I’ve ever chosen to do.
The big question now is “Will you do it again?”
“I have to… I think I can do better.”