I set a goal.
I researched the best way to achieve it.
I put a training plan into place.
I followed through, even when I didn't feel like it.
I got injured, but didn't let it stop me.
If you can believe it, you can achieve it. On Saturday, October 30, I earned the right to call myself a runner. I am a HALF MARATHONER!!!!!
To backtrack.....the last time I posted, there was a real possibility I wouldn't be running at all. My right fibula, just above the ankle, was trying very hard to break. Long story made short, I essentially had to stop running just about completely with 3 weeks to go before the race. It would be nice to say the hiatus didn't affect my training or my performance, but it affected both. Fortunately, there were just enough miles in the bank for my body to remember what it needed to do.
So, the race report, in probably more details than you thought you needed (but I'll try to keep it brief):
It was chilly in NOLA the morning of the race, that kind of clear, nonhumid chilly the Gulf Coast isn't exactly known for. I got up at 5:15, and since I'd pulled everything together the night before, there wasn't anything to do but fuel up with a PowerBar and get dressed. Chip on shoe? Check. Number on shirt? Check. Dad dropped me off at the start area and I paced around, stretching a little and trying to stay warm. It had been a long time - and by long, I mean since grad school kind of long - since I'd been at a start line to run, not just stroll along for the cure or Christmas or whatever, and I had nervous energy to spare.
We lined up en masse behind the start line and waited for the gun. It was a good 3 minutes before I got to the timing mat, so I had a little bit of a walking warmup and a chat with some people around me. Then it was geaux time....and I crossed the mat and took my first running steps. Slowly, carefully, trying not to go out too hard and burn all my energy before I needed it. It took about a half-mile to find a rhythm and a place in the pack.
Somehow it had escaped me that we'd be running in front of our hotel. Surely the family didn't catch on to that, I'd see them at mile 13. Nope.....I saw a bright purple LSU shirt in the distance and knew immediately it was Dad. He was talking on his phone, and as soon as he saw me, he started frantically pointing up to the balconies. At that point, I got the best lift I could have asked for. There on the 8th floor were my Mom, the hubs, and my sweet boy yelling and cheering for all they were worth. I knew they were proud of me, and I was thrilled to be out there.
I pulled out my earphone to get my times at miles 1-4, and was pleased. Here's where I'm going to condense a bit.
Mile 5: wow, Extra gum. FAIL. And are you serious, there are already people running back toward the finish? Who are these freaks?
Mile 6: my ass...oh God, my ASS. Not kidding, my left buttcheek seized up in a dead cramp. This is unpleasant. I know why, too. We were running down a TERRIBLE street and my leg was starting to hurt, causing me to alter my stride.
Mile 7: Audubon Park is lovely. What a nice run! Perhaps I'll walk a bit here because oh God, my ASS! there it goes again!
Mile 8: Just how big IS Audubon Park? Let's have another GU.
Mile 9: What have I done? May as well keep going forward, it would be an 18-miler for me to turn around and go back the other way. At least I don't have to use the portapotty.
Mile 10: I got married in this church! (the mile marker was literally in the front yard of the church) And oh yeah...take Airplanes off the playlist permanently. No one needs to hear "I could really use a wish right now" at mile 10.
Mile 11: Don't bother, highschooler. I'm not taking my earphone out. Who cares about the split time....because of my ASS!!!!!! can i take off my buttcheek?
Mile 12: looky, it's my friend Colleen! she ran a MARATHON. Surely I can drag this carcass another 1.1 miles. Hand over the gatorade, runner girl, or I'll cut you.
Mile 13: holy crap. HOLY CRAP. i've done it. every muscle below my waist has a cramp in it. but in just a few minutes......
I have to tell you that at this point in the race, two women came up to me, one on either side, and informed me we were all three sprinting the remainder of the race. We would cross the finish line, sprinting, together. I will never, ever forget their faces, even though I have no idea of their names. In that moment, I was superhuman.
And in that moment, I crossed the timing mat and finished the New Orleans Jazz Half Marathon. I took the medal I was offered and fought back the tears. Didn't even think to look at my time. Ultimately, it's not a time I'm proud of, but an accomplishment I'm prouder of than almost any thus far. My Dad found me first, then Mom, then right behind her was my husband with my sweet boy. I'm not sure they've ever been prouder of me than they were then.
And then we went directly to the beer tent........
Seriously, though. It was my first half, but not my last. Running is something I do because I love it. It's not about punishing myself, but about rewarding myself. It's not about losing weight, but about gaining sanity and balance. It's about knowing I can push myself for the right reasons, and about learning more of who I am in the process. I'm a better person, wife, mother, and friend for taking on this challenge. I raised almost $3100 for Children's Hospital of New Orleans. In that moment, I was a rockstar. No one can take that away from me.
(yes, I'm already signed up for more races. 2 5Ks, a 10K, and a 12K, to be precise. the next half? hmmmm. stay tuned.........)