After much running, reading, driving, resting and sleeping, I am finally sitting down to write an update on my earlier post from January, Shooting for Goals. Some have been easier than others, but I am happy to say I’ve been sticking with and have completed a couple!
Last Sunday, April 27th, I ran the OKC Memorial half-marathon with my favorite team, FBC Norman!
But before I talk about the actual marathon, I must walk you through the training process…or should I say jog you through it…
I had never ran more than 4 miles before training for this 13.1 road of physical pain and emotions. So I started with a program (Hal Higdon Training Program) and did my best to stick with it. But my best wasn’t cutting it. I was running on my own for most of the beginning of training and it was not good. I kept walking and getting bored and thinking negatively about how I was doing. When it was time for me to be at 6 miles, I was still at 4. It became more of a “Ugh I have to go run” instead of “I get to go train my body for something great”. So I reached out to my teammates. All it took was a group text to set up a group run and boom, I had accountability. Accountability is so important for making goals. Someone who knows what it means to you, and especially someone who has the same goal as you…there is so much good in that relationship.
Krystal and I ran our first run together with Joey and Dustin. They were much faster than us so we kept each other at a good pace that was more comfortable, but challenging enough. We ran 7 miles that day, our longest run to that point! It was so much easier to keep running with her by my side. So we kept at it. During the week we would run together, just she and I, and on the weekends Connor joined us. Though I joked about being a third wheel runner a lot, I truly enjoyed those times of running with them and hanging out afterwards trying to catch our breathes and not die.
One particular training day, Krystal and I ran from my house to campus and back, totaling up to 5 miles. When we were done it felt like we’d only ran 3! What was the difference we wondered? Well it was probably the 8 miles we had previously ran that weekend, which was super difficult, so running less wasn’t as difficult. “Oh, so that’s how training works. Who knew?” But really, the encouragement that Krystal gives when we ran was so great. When I felt like I needed to walk for a bit, she would run back to me and jog beside me until my lungs were working properly. This was super humbling for me, because when I’m doing badly I just want to be alone and take my time. I don’t think she knew this, and I’m really glad she didn’t. Thank you, Krystal 🙂
Race day morning started early as I woke up at 4am to eat a good snack of breakfast and pick up a teammate across town. It was pleasantly warm as I picked her up and we drove to meet the rest of the team, chatting excitedly about the endeavor ahead. We met at Truman to carpool, and as everyone was stretching and getting pumped for the drive up there we saw the flashes of lightening that were to later postpone the start of the marathon. It sprinkled only a little on the way, but by the time we walked to Coffee Slingers it was raining and stormy and the officer nearby told us the race was delayed 30 minutes. So it ended up being an hour and 50 minutes of us waiting in a coffee shop and then drive-thru bank, huddling up to keep dry and warm, and joking about I can’t even remember what. Honestly it was a blast because of the people I was with.
Then the clouds began to move on, and the crowd’s spirits began to lift. We jogged over to the start line and I first laid my eyes on about half of the people I would be running with, which still looked like one million all bunched up on the street, stripping their rain gear off as the weather was warming up quickly. The energy was amazing! Our bright shirts were helpful in keeping up with our group, but only until we go there and saw about 2,735 people wearing the same color. So we did our best to keep together and move up the line.
There we were, finally at the start, the place we’ve been working up to for so long. The people and the scenery was so much to take in and all I could think was “Oh man this is awesome..but don’t start out too fast…” Then the gun went off and about 4 minutes later Taylor and I were running across the start line, she running on ahead of me as I told her I’m slower 🙂 First awesome thing to run by were the men and women in their firefighting uniforms, walking with the Oklahoma and American flags. As people ran by them, they shouted thanks and support and I was trying not to cry. Here the reality of of why this marathon began in the first place really hit me. Though I don’t remember April 19, 1995 very well, I have grown up seeing the impact it has had on this state and it’s people. “We run to remember” they say, “We run for those who can’t”. Beautiful. I kept this in mind and tried to just focus on all the neat things going on around me as I ran; the funny signs, the music, the people dressed as bananas on Gorilla Hill, the people I saw along the way that I knew. I can honestly and happily say I don’t recall having any negative thoughts about how I was doing while I was running. My knee was hurting off and on and so was my hip, so I ran as much as I could and walked a little when I really needed to. I took the water and Poweraid, and one time took the pretzels, but immediately spit them out when I realized how dry they made my mouth. Why pretzels?! Bananas and oranges were a pleasant alternative later on though. Mmm.
The mile markers got higher and the amount of people passing me wasn’t as much as it was in the beginning and I really began to feel like I was doing something great for myself. I knew I could finish it as where before I’d ran more than 4 miles I didn’t think I could really run 13 at once. It was a pretty cool feeling; proud of myself in a most humbling manner-through the pain. Then came the last mile, which I told myself I was running all of no matter what. Bystanders on the side kept telling us we were so close, and I clung to their words. And then the straightaway…the last one…the one that led to the finish. I couldn’t believe I was there. I kept moving my legs and told them to go faster. I thought again about those who can’t tell their legs to move faster, or to move at all. I thought about precious Finn, and I dedicated those last 100 yards to him as I picked up speed. For those reading who do not know Finn, He is my University Minister’s son. He’s an adorable 2 year old blonde-haired, blue-eyed sweet boy who has spina bifida; something I knew nothing of until I met the Armstrong’s. They are such a great family who mean so much to me. And oh that sweet Finn-if you don’t know him, drop what you’re doing and come meet him now! If his parents say it’s okay..just do it. I thought about him a lot during the training and the race. He and his family have taught me so much. And then I finished.
Legs exhausted, knee throbbing, hip cramping, and smile growing I walked on through the line to get my medal and searched for Krystal and Connor. I found them almost immediately and we embraced with smiles and congratulations. There is such a difference for me between feeling great because I’m done with something and feeling grateful because I had done something worth while! My final time was 2:34:37, just around the time I was hoping for for my first half-marathon.
I did it!! I set a goal to run in and finish the OKC Half, and that is what I did. But what I have learned through this experience is so much more-really, it would be an entirely new blog. Maybe I’ll write it sometime, but for now, I rest again.