I did it.
It was rainy and cold, I was sick, and I got blisters on both of my feet.
But I did it.
And from now on I’m going to switch pronouns, because though running is an individual sport, I could not have gotten to the finish line (or the starting line, really) without the help of my running partner, Cabell.
Without her, at mile 11, I would have given in to the temptation to stop running, walk over to a police cruisers, and ask for a ride home. Everyone would have understood, right? I gave birth 5 months ago, these things happen.
We did it.
And it was hard. Really, really hard.
First up, I want to brag on my husband, who ran a half marathon PR of 1:27.15. I trained maybe four times more than he did, but obviously training doesn’t beat genetics, drive, the ability to push beyond pain, and a body of mostly muscle and sinew.
Tom always has twice as many race photos as me because when he runs by the cameras he’s one of the few out there. By the time I run by the streets are packed.
Also, Mary Virginia exceeded all my expectations. While I was running she took a great nap and pounded a bottle like she’d been doing it all her life. Good thing I spent all that time worrying.
I did NOT carry a phone or check messages because I knew that even if Mary Virginia was melting down and refusing the bottle, there was nothing I could do and it would just upset me. So when we were in the car and on the way home, I checked messages and saw this pic from Tom’s mom. AN EMPTY BOTTLE! ::HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF::
Now back to the race.
First, the forecast was way wrong. They predicted something like sunny and 64 degrees with a 30 percent chance of rain. When I woke up at 5:30 a.m. it was raining and I didn’t think twice about it because sunny and 64 degrees with a 30 percent chance of rain.
But then it kept raining and raining and raining.
It was drizzling at the starting line, and it kept raining on and off for the whole race. I was wearing a long sleeved shirt at the start, got hot at mile 3, dropped it at mile 8, and regretted it by mile 10.
We felt decent enough at the start, but even early on, I never really felt like I settled into a rhythm. I sort of “felt” each mile. Usually in races the miles sort of just tick off, but not really this time. We were running a decent pace (we ran the first 10K in 57:04, a 9:11/mile pace), and even though that’s the pace we trained at, I never felt totally comfortable.
There are hills from mile 5-7, and they pretty much took the wind out of my sails. We trained to prepare for the hills, but a mile later I still felt like I was still recovering.
And this photo? This unflattering race photo? It captures exactly how I felt. Tired, desperately searching for the next mile marker, and feeling like I was running in place. (I always look like I’m standing still in race photos.)
But even though it was tough, we were doing it. We were at the “ok, this isn’t the easiest thing in the world but we trained and we’re fit so keep going.”
By mile 11 I was done. Things had gotten hard and harder and the rain picked up and my blisters had bloomed and I just felt wasted. I’m used to the feeling of pain in a race, but this was different. This was the feeling of asking so much of my body. I’m nursing, sleep-deprived, and have been sick since September. And by mile 11, I felt it completely.
Miles 12 and 13 and that cursed .1 were all grit. (We also slowed down in the second half of the race. I didn’t run with a GPS so I don’t know our mile splits, but after running 9:11 for the first 10k, our overall average mile was 9:27.)
Finished. All smiles at 13.1.
I tried out a new tradition of clicking my heels at the finish line. I dunno, I think it was a fail. Not only did the photo not turn out, but it took a lot of energy to get off the ground. Heel click = falling hazard.
This was my fifth half marathon. It was also my slowest, and maybe the hardest. But I think it’s also the one I’m most proud of. While I was running I thought about how, for the past four years, and for the next few years (probably), every time I run a race I’ll be either pregnant, postpartum, or nursing. And even if I’m not in one of those stages, I’ll still be a mom, and running is tough when you’re a mom.
I don’t know what’s in store in terms of speed and PRs, but I DO know that this race taught me that the feeling accomplishment at the finish line has nothing to do with any of that.