Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Story of Seven Years

Today I ran the Fox Cities Half Marathon for what will probably be the last time.  I've run this race every September for seven years and during today's race, I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I've changed since the first time I ran it in 2007 - especially after Mile 8 when I was deep in the Pain Cave and it became a mental battle to finish.  I'm proud to say that, for once, my body quit before my mind.

In 2007, I kissed Mr. R&R goodbye and boarded a school bus that would transport me to the starting line of my very first half marathon.  I was absolutely terrified. I was a running newbie who really had no idea what I was doing or what to expect - or if I could even do this at all. I got to the starting area and was somewhat convinced that I was about to make a complete fool out of myself - or die. Those negative feelings weren't helped any when I discovered that I'd forgotten my watch.  I remember calling Mr. R&R (because of course I remembered my cell phone and hauled it with me for 13.1 miles) and freaking the %#*@ out because of it!  When the gun went off, I was swept along in a sea of people and managed to run maybe the first 1 1/2 miles before I needed to drop to a walk.  I kept plugging along, listening to whatever was on my iPod at the moment, wondering exactly how slow I was going, and being very happy to see the aid station at each mile.  When I hit Mile 10, every step forward was a new personal distance record since my training plan capped at a 10 mile long run.  I remember being a little impressed with myself and I remember how much it started to hurt!  My greatest memory of that race is running down the final straight away, smiling like a total goofball, throwing my arms over my head in victory as I crossed the finish line, and bawling like a baby when Mr. R&R found me.  I had done it. I had run a half marathon in 2 hours, 37 minutes, and 37 seconds (12:02/mile pace).
Fox Cities - 2007

If I could go back in time and talk to that girl from seven years ago, what would I say to her (even though she wouldn't have believed me)?

  • You can and will finish this race.
  • A year from now, you'll run this race 2 weeks before you run your first marathon - and you'll do it almost 16 minutes faster than the first time. Five years from now, you'll do it in under 2:10.
  • You will go on to run 2 marathons, 12 more half marathons, 4 duathlons, and a sprint triathlon.
  •  You will learn that you are so much stronger and more stubborn than you think you are. These things will both help and hinder you along the way.
  • You will go on to run this race completely untrained on several occasions, and still run it faster than you will today.
  • Your idea of "proper running clothes" will change. Trust'll embrace the whole 'lined shorts' thing and you'll ditch the super-cushioned shoes.
  • Gatorade is not your friend during/after races. Trust me.
  • You will learn that the only true failure is not starting.
  • You will discover the Finish Line High - and  you'll chase it every chance you get.

No one ever said that this journey would be easy, but as I sit here tonight, I can say ever step I've ever run in the Fox Cites was worth it.


Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to the feeling "I'm either gonna make a fool of myself...or die" And I usually respond with "Eh, what the hell." We're still her :)

Mary said...

Pretty much. That which does not kill me and all that!