There I was, June 14th, 2015 – running my first half marathon. It never occurred to me that I would ever be capable of running 13.1 miles. A snapshot of my 12-year-old brain reveals my expectations for my life were: get married in the year 2010 (I have hope for this), because by then I will have graduated college (I still have hope for this, too) and have a decent job in an office (I’m sure I meant trailer on a construction site). There were no athletic aspirations. None.
I hated to run. I hated to run because it hurt. I was always slow. I never made any teams. I just tried to not be the last person to be picked in gym class. At least I wasn’t the last one.
It was surreal, the idea of running a half marathon. I’m not sure it made as big of an impression on me as it probably should have. I mean, after swimming the English Channel, running any kind of a distance didn’t seem impossible. People do these things all the time. Ironman Lake Placid had more registrants in 2012 at that one event than there are successful English Channel swimmers in the history of the world. (Like, EVER.)
My point is that people do this kind of stuff. People. Regular people. With the right training and commitment, they do it. I’m a people. I can do it, too! And I was super busy with regular people things – school and work and dating (this is me trying to be normal) – and didn’t train as much as I needed to, either. I did manage to get in some long runs. I didn’t have a strategy. I didn’t have any real notion of what I was doing.
Just run! Just run with Judy and be happy.
At registration, I stood talking to Kathrine Switzer. I was telling her about my English Channel swim. I listened to the story of the Boston Marathon. It was like we belonged in each other’s company. I guess maybe we do.
Then I was hovering at the starting line. I stood in Judy’s easy bubble of confidence and pleasant energy. I said hello to Julianne from Masters. We waited.
Then, a funny thing happened. The race began and I started to run.
And I just kept running.
I was glad for Judy’s company. She made the miles disappear. My dad showed up to cheer us on. David met up with us at various locations.
The water station between miles 2 and 7 vanished, or maybe it was never there to begin with. I was glad I had my water bottle with me. I knew I wasn’t drinking enough. It was so hot. Blistering. Sweltering. Hot, hot, hot.
Mile 7 was awesome! Water and Gatorade and friendly faces encouraging us along.
“Aren’t you that girl who swam the English Channel?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Actually, I am!”
“Oh, well this is nothing compared to that!”
Around mile 8 or 9, my friend, Chris, rode by on his motorcycle, backtracked and parked near us. He jumped off and gave me hug. Poor courageous soul, I was absolutely drenched with sweat! So gross!
… But it made me smile.
And when the final few hills were hard and long and got steeper… Judy reminded me that it wasn’t that far to the finish. Right at the top of a particularly brutal hill at Mile 10… we were immediately rewarded by a wonderful group of cheerleaders! How fun is that!
And my feet kept going along. I never felt like I had to walk. I just kept trudging onward and upward. Until I could see the finish line… and I sprinted to the end!
Something happens when you train for something – you transform into somebody who can do it. No matter what ‘it’ is. You can do it.
I did it; the most unlikely thing.
I ran that whole half marathon.
I crossed that finish line.