So awhile ago I decided my next running goal (after completing my first 10k) was to run a half marathon. My original goal was to complete it before the new year… however life has a funny way of throwing you for a loop when its the least convenient. So in typical fashion RIGHT when I should have been training the hardest we suddenly got hit with packing and moving into our first real home of our own. Blessings galore! But seriously inconvenient when it came to accomplishing my goal I set for myself.
SO I missed out on the Pueblo Half December 2nd and decided to take the plunge and commit to the Super Half! I knew my best friend and I were planning to run another half in March and thought this way I can get over the fear and anxiety of actually accomplishing 13.1 miles all on my own, prior to flying out to DC. for the Rock & Roll Half. Once I paid my registration things got serious. I scoured the internet for various training plans and got an idea to combine the best of what I saw into something I felt worked for my schedule. Kendall provided me with some awesome info on Galloway method and utilizing smaller intervals for my runs; which worked tremendously during my training. I wrote it on a calendar, posted it on our family bulletin board and BOOM I was off.
Let me preface by saying, if you don’t know me or run with me … I am slow. Now, that’s not me putting myself down but simply stating the obvious. I really have come to a place where I don’t care about speed but am just working on extending to longer distances: endurance is what its called in the running world I guess. I view it similarly to my shift from caring about what the scale says to caring more about feeling fit and liking the way my clothes fit. SO that being said, I am very used to being in the back of the pack… bringing up the rear…. running alone. Ill meet up with the group then do my best to match the same distance as everyone else even if it takes me a bit longer to complete. I’ve learned I don’t need company to run next to me and chat with me, but a group to get me there and the challenge to try and keep up… or at least keep them in my line of sight. 🙂 I really learned to get over the fear of being the slowest or the last to finish which had always held me back from signing up for races in the past. I was afraid to be that person on the course being followed by the workers closing the course. I was afraid to get kicked off the course for not finishing in time. I was afraid to be embarrassed about finishing DEAD LAST.
Well guess what…
That was ME today.
I kid you not, I finished DEAD last with the volunteers rolling slowly in their truck behind me picking up the cones on the course. Granted, for new half marathon runners a 3 hr window to finish is really not much (in my opinion) but thats ok, it gave me a goal to try and reach for. But once I realized the snow was falling, temps were FREEZING and my body was beginning to hate me I knew my hope of finishing before the cut off time were slowly dying.
I tried not to look behind me and see the truck, but I could hear them there. I knew what they were doing. At one point they passed me and I panicked a little. I thought maybe they didnt see my race bib because it was under my very thin long sleeve shirt so I lifted it up a little and kept running so if i caught up to them they would know I was out there trying to finish the superhalf. I mean, come on now WHO in their right mind would honestly be out there running in the snow and freezing wind just because…. When I caught up to the truck they asked if I was doing ok and needed anything. I assured them I was good, just going slow because I was frozen they threw a few encouraging words my way and I kept on running. From that point on they slowly followed me the entire rest of the way on the course.
I also spent certain chunks of time trying to catch up to people I saw in front of me, or at least keep them in my line of sight. At the halfway point I was shocked that I wasn’t already in last place but then the temps dropped and the snow began blowing directly in my face. Thanks to our weatherman I dressed for 45 degrees and sunny… I had on thin capris and a baseball cap…. no long fleece lined pants or head warmer OR gloves. I began to freeze and what few people were actually behind me began passing me. The exposed part of my legs were burning. My hands hurt and felt like bricks, I couldnt bend my fingers from the position I held them in while running. I couldnt feel my face and Im fairly certain the snot dripping from my nose was frozen too till id wipe it off with my sleeve (attractive I know). Once my body began to freeze I began to struggle. Because my hands were so frozen I stopped feeling my watch vibrate when my intervals were switching So I had to adjust to visual intervals and try to stay positive. “ill run to that tree” or “ill run to the top of the next hill” which would have worked except for being frozen, moving slow and watching people pass me like it was nothing.
At one point the oh so inspiring special needs girl who runs all these crazy races alongside us(I think shes blind?) who was being escorted by two super positive and encouraging escorts passed me and ended up just out of my line of vision and even though I had less than a mile left It really was hard to keep running and not just walk to the finish, which I was sure was already closed and empty of life at this point. But then I heard the tires of the truck slowly rolling behind me again so I picked up my speed and jogged along again. At this point a gentleman with a bib on, who I dont even know ran passed me. WHY he was going the opposite way I have no clue, but as he passed he said some encouraging things to me I said thanks and kept pushing along. Out of no where a few minutes later he flies up beside me and begins talking. I dont even know what the heck he was talking about but It kept me moving. He reassured me I was almost there that the finish line was literally just around the corner. Ive learned as a runner, unless you know where you are going this phrase is not to be trusted lol. Thankfully I knew where I was headed and that I was almost to the finish line.
Last year when I did the 5k and finished it was sunny and I could hear the pep band playing before they were even in view. This year I could barely see anything through the snow and fog… but you know what I heard?? Cheering. As we turned the corner and went under the bridge This guy I dont even know yelled to the few amazing people still holding up the finish line ((for me)) and said ” FIRST TIME FINISHER HERE!! ” and they all began to cheer as I moved one foot in front of the other to cross that DAMNED finish line.
I couldnt feel a thing, crying wasnt even possible bc everything on my face was frozen and I couldnt breathe. I was SO happy when I saw the person at the finish line holding up a medal, I didnt think I would get one!! They had enough for me to still get one finishing LAST, but my hands were so frozen I tried taking it from him but couldnt. He ended up putting it over my head for me. You guys, I was SO glad to be done. A wonderful MRTT mama happened to still be there as I crossed the finish line and I am so grateful to her for cheering me on with all the other strangers at the finish and for taking this photo for me to remember this moment; frozen, tearful and SO glad to have finished something I truly wasn’t sure I could ever do.
In this moment it didn’t matter that I came in last. It didn’t matter that I didn’t meet my goal (just barely missed it). It didn’t matter that people passed me and I couldn’t keep up with them. It didn’t matter that I was a slow runner …. all that mattered was I finished.
Moral to my story… if you are holding back from races, or participating in events because you are afraid you might come in dead last… DONT. Being in the back of the pack aint all that bad and it’s not about how fast you go just whether or not you finish.
and trust me… we ALL are capable of finishing.