Sunday I ran my first half-marathon. People ask, “So, you must be so happy!” You bet I’m happy; happy that I’m finished. My quads, on the other hand, are not happy today and I fear their response will be even worse tomorrow. Oh, quads. Get over it.
I ran the race with a couple friends of mine (Laura from Scotland and David from Michigan). Laura, like myself, had never run a half marathon before so our lofty goal was merely to finish. As we discussed prior runs thought we could get under 2:15 and that became our new goal. Dave, on the other hand, has run many a races and is what I’d like to call a “Type A runner”. He had consumed an exact breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, attached six small water bottles around his waist to be drunk at 12 minute intervals, applied lubricant to all the right places, brought a package of specially created sport Jelly Bellies to be consumed shortly after the 10K mark, and a strategically placed sweat band to make sure not drop got into his eyes. He also is a chatterbox and he entertained us with all kinds of conversation for the first hour. After getting a burst from his beans, he blasted off so he could “negative split” for the end. Prior to running with him, I thought PB was only an acronym for peanut butter.
As we moved at our regular pace, we noticed that we were catching up and passing various pace setters. The race had a variety of people along the route with brightly colored shirts and balloons tied to them boldly displaying the time that they would finish. If you ran with that person, you’d get the time you desired. This I found was a brilliant idea. Laura and I passed the 2:15, 2:10, 2:05 and 2:00. Now the goal had changed. Keep ahead of them and we could finish before two hours. We both jumped on board with the new game plan.
For the first hour and half I was fine (besides the stupid idea of wearing a new sports bra and having to literally shove a sponge down my shirt to stop the chaffing!). I’m an avid wearer of my heart monitor and I know that if I keep my rate below 180, I can go forever. But then it was 181, then 183, 185 and I still had three more kilometers to go. Normally 3K is no big deal but I did the math: I had about 18 more minutes to go. That seemed like an eternity away and I turned to see the 2:00 pace setters only a few steps behind me.
This is when I had to recall every motivational story and speaker into my head. “It’s mind over matter. You can do it. Just take another step,” I kept repeating to myself. I thought about Terry Fox. I thought about my friend Heather who ran a marathon for five hours. I recalled the blog of a guy who ran a marathon with no training. I thought about all those poor bastards that still had a second loop ahead of them. I thought about how disappointed I’d be if I started walking at kilometer 18. I thought about all of the people I’d told about this race and how it would suck to report that I’d quit. I thought about multiple people who couldn’t run either by injury, age, illness or disability. I thought about each flippin’ step, “Keep going, just keep going.”
Then, at the 19km mark I turned a corner and suddenly the path was full of people on either side, held back by barricades. People were clapping, singing and playing in bands. Even if I wanted to quit I physically couldn’t get out of the road. Plus, again, I am highly driven by not wanting to look like a wimp or a quitter and I looked at all these people looking at me! I then heard my friends yelling, “GO JENNA!” and I took a few more steps and saw a couple more. In needing every cheer, I looked around for other faces of recognition and saw a student of mine yelling my name. I smiled. Then, in fearing my legs would give out, I looked up and saw the finish line and made my way across it.
1:59:02. I did it. This certainly was my Personal Best. So when people ask me about my PB for the half, I’ve got digits to tell them. :)