I’ve done a lot in my 37 (almost 38) years. A lot of them have been hard. Really hard.
I joined the Army, moved away from everyone I knew and loved and jumped out of airplanes.
I’ve traveled the world, many times on my own, and navigated countless airports, foreign highways and currency exchanges. The freeways in Panama and Costa Rica are scary, scary places.
I gave birth to two healthy babies, the first with little to no epidural (long story).
I was a single mom for Shelby’s first year.
I’ve been married and divorced. And then married again (this one will stick).
I’ve had tumors on one of my ovaries and had to have them surgically removed along with the offending ovary and attached fallopian tube.
All of those things have been hard and at times stretched me to the edge of my abilities. But this weekend when I embarked on my first half marathon (the Malibu Half Marathon), I had no idea just how hard it would be.
I was cavalier about the whole thing. I figured I’d been running semi regularly for the last year, though my half marathon training never materialized. And over the last two months I’ve been super busy with work (two trips to Denmark, a trip to DC, a trip to Atlanta, writing a new handbook …etc.), so I’ve exercised a handful of times. Seriously, I just looked on my Nike profile and realized before my half marathon I hadn’t ran or walked since Sept. 4th. Yikes!
But, I’m healthy,right? And I’m tough, right? Wrong. I was in no way prepared with just how hard the whole experience would be. I told myself I’d walk the whole thing and then run Tinker Bell Half Marathon in January, because by then I would be ready. But my competitive spirit got the best of me. I started the race running. And kept running. When I finished my fourth mile of running I hit a hill. Literally. The course went straight up a hill. And I about died. I slowed down. At times I walked. But when the hills would disappear, I would run again. I ran 70 to 80% of the race. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever, ever done.
The course was much hillier than we expected and this made this experience that much harder and more painful. Add to that I had no music on my phone and I was borderline miserable. Weeks ago I had cleared off all the music, because I use Spotify so much. I figured I’d use it for the race. Too bad I couldn’t get cell phone service, and thus couldn’t connect to Spotify. Instead, I listened to a book: Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. At my toughest moment, when I thought I might as well quit, Brown wrote something to the effect “If you own your story, you can write the ending.”
At that moment, I had a choice. I could own my story, take control and writing my own ending. I took a deep breath and started thinking about each step I was taking. I slowed my breathing down and got into a decent running rhythm. I didn’t move fast (an average pace of 12:42 per mile). When I toyed with the idea of quitting I would tell myself “You don’t quit. You spent 14 years in the Army. Each of your labors lasted twice as long as this race would. You are tough. You are strong. You can do this.” And I did.
I’m so, so sore now. I’ve never hurt so bad in my entire life. At this point, the recovery has been almost worse than the actual race! I’m going to work a lot harder in the training department for my next race. I’m hoping lots of training will equal an easier recovery.
In the end, I’m so glad I did this. I feel so proud of myself and that in and of itself is worth all the pain. I’ve once again proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.
Note: My BFF of about 25 years (Jennie) also completed the race. I’m SO proud of her. She has plantar fasciitis, which makes basic walking hard, let alone completing a half marathon. Whoo hoo for Jennie.
AND she’s doing the Tinker Bell Half Marathon as well. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have done this race or any other race for that matter. So thanks Jen, you inspire me and keep me on track!
I also have to mention another friend, Jen, also tackled the race with us. Three cheers for Castillo! She said it best “We’re athletes girls. It says so on our race bib.” Yes, yes we are.