Dec 8, 2013

13.1 Miles of Fun...or not...

So one day at the end of summer my friend Tiffany and I were visiting and I said, "You know what would be fun?  We should train for a half marathon together!"  I seriously don't know what I was thinking.  I mean, sure I've done half marathons before and the distance is not that bad.  Yes, it gave us a goal to work towards so that working out had some meaning to it other than just trying to be healthy, and of course it was super fun to do most of our long runs together and get a chance to visit with each other for longer and longer each week...wait...I think I'm talking myself into it again.  Not what I meant to do!  Apparently, I do remember why we decided it would be fun to do together, but when race day finally arrived it was such a supremely miserable experience that I questioned my sanity and felt like a horrible friend for even suggesting such a thing to Tiffany.

Terrible friend that I am aside, Woman's Half Marathon race day dawned a crisp 30 degrees and rainy.  Ouch.  For those of you who don't know, cold is my kryptonite.  If it had not been for Tiffany I totally would have bailed on this race.  Instead I got up at 4 a.m. and got ready to make my way to the starting line.  Tiffany picked me up and brought two of her biggest fans with her.  I questioned the sanity of Josh and Brandon, but I admired their dedication.  Mawmaw came to stay with Watts and Damon bundled up the girls to be my little support team.  I was so surprised to see them around mile four.  Surprised, but ecstatic.  You see, I had overdressed on top and was burning up.  I was hoping to see someone soon so I could chunk some clothing at them!  I thought that it would take Damon much longer to get the girls up and dressed but he has become quite adept at kid wrangling so they were on the course bright and early... 
The blur in the left hand side of this picture is my sweet Cille.  The girls were great cheerleaders...
I am not really a fan of these pictures, but it was very sweet of Damon to take them, so here they are...
Of course my friend who was running her first ever half marathon is an amazing distance runner and completed the course in an hour and 45 minutes.  Why can't I ever find a friend who is slower than me?  Oh well, that aside it was pretty amazing of Tiffany to do all those long runs with me at my slow pace.  A good friend runs with you; a great friend doesn't leave you in the dust even though she can!  Here's Tiffany and her support team at the finish line...
I have run several half marathons in the past, and I have never been able to break 2 hours.  When I started training this time I noticed myself getting a little faster (probably because of trying to keep up with Tiffany) and started to dream the impossible dream of breaking 2 hours.  When race day turned out so miserable, I figured it wouldn't happen...
At the 7 mile mark I was at straight up 1 hour on the clock.  I figured that put me a little ahead and attributed it to trying to run faster to get out of the cold more quickly.  However, around mile 6 my left knee began to hurt.  I had a little knee pain during my later long runs in training, but it had never happened as early as 6 miles.  I started to get pretty nervous about finishing, much less making my goal...
For the second half of the course I basically had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.  I had no iPod that day, so I guess I had lots of time to talk to myself.  I would think, "40 minutes left.  You can do anything for 40 minutes!" Then the other half of me would say, "Are you insane?  This is miserable and ridiculous! You should just run up to that house with the outdoor fireplace, fire up the gas logs, and ask them to call Damon to pick you up when they come out to see who the trespasser is."  The crazier voice in my head won out, though, because I did not quit...
And guess what?  I broke 2!  Miracles CAN happen...
My sweet girls were there to snap a finish line photo with me.  The hilarious thing about the official race photos is that their camera must have malfunctioned about the time I finished because these images don't exist on the professional photographer's website and all my actual finish line photos are blurry and horrible...

So what do I think my girls learned by watching me complete this exercise in insanity? Good question.  I hope that they learned that when you make a commitment, you should follow through, even if it means a couple of hours of discomfort.  I hope that they learned to set goals and try to achieve them even if they seem unreachable.  I'm positive that they learned it is tortuous to be outside in the rain when it is freezing outside...
Will I ever win a half marathon? Probably not.  Do I care?  Absolutely not.  Preparing for this race was a very rewarding journey because I had the chance to really get to know a new friend.  The race itself taught me a lot about my ability to stick with something even when it's tough.  It taught me that I can stick with something tough for at least two hours...
In spite of these happy finish line photos, I was in a bad place after the race.  My left knee was killing me and I had trouble bending it at all for about the next 24 hours.  My body temperature also plummeted so I had blue lips by the time I made it back to the truck.  I have honestly never been so generally miserable following an endurance event, and that's saying a lot if you read back over race reports like Big Chill and No Sweat.  I think it actually scared the girls a little bit because Stella refused to leave my side until I was in the passenger seat.

The last thing that I would like to say about the race is how thankful I am that I was able to do it at all.  If it was not for Damon I would never have even considered running a half at this point of life.  He made sure that I had time each week to train, whether that meant watching kids or finding a treadmill in the middle of nowhere on a frigid day.  He was a perfect example for our children of what a supportive spouse should be and I am thankful that God blessed me with such a wonderful husband.  I am also thankful that God has given me the physical ability to run.  It is such a wonderful way to appreciate the truly miraculous bodies that He has created for us and gives you a chance to experience His creation in a way that you might miss if you weren't outside for 2 hours staring at it.  Thank you, Jesus, for the beauty of Baton Rouge and the weather You put in it.

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