Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mission Accomplished

...and we're off. The half-marathon began and I took off with the crowd. I had placed myself with the 9-minute pacing group at the start line since I was hoping to finish the half-marathon in about 2 hours. Within the first two miles, I felt a sudden urge to use the bathroom. I played it off as just nervousness and anxiety and I refused to make a bathroom stop. Despite the persistent urge to go to the bathroom, the first 9 miles were surprisingly wonderful. I had found a group of runners that I could pace myself with and I was unexpectedly averaging about 8:15-8:20 minute miles. I approached a few hills during the race and I could feel my pace slow down a little but I immediately checked my Garmin and kept up with "my group." During these initial miles, I took stock of the moment. It was the largest and the farthest race that I had ran thus far. I observed all the runners- young, old, small, large, male, and female. Some were running in solitude as I was while others were running in groups. I was simply in awe at that moment. There is a certain level of camaraderie and fellowship that is felt among all runners, whether we personally know each other or not. Without any words spoken, we understand both the joys and pains of running. Thus, I relished in the moment and felt proud and thankful to be present.

Along the way, there were several checkpoints where fans where cheering us on. I noticed small children holding signs honoring and encouraging their parents and loved ones to keep running. I observed residents along the course sitting with lawn chairs and applauding us for our efforts. It was my motivation and inspiration to keep it moving...but then it happened. Around mile 10, I lost the thrill of the moment and my legs seemed to be confused. They must have thought I was running a 10-mile race because they were hastily telling me to stop. My legs literally didn't want to move. I had to fight the urge to stop and walk. In addition, my need to use the bathroom had become stronger and even more prevalent, so I realized that this wasn't just nervousness.

At mile 11, I listened to my body and I had to make the much dreaded bathroom break. I also listened to my legs and the voice of doubt and began walking. My "running group" had left behind so I felt comfortable with taking a brief break from running. (They couldn't see me.) About 45 seconds later as the runners sprinted past me, that other voice of will and determination yelled loud and clear, "you can do this." So, I started running once again, I told myself that there was less than two miles to go. I checked my Garmin and I was back at my 8:20 pace and feeling good. As I approached the last mile, I saw the upcoming hill. My voice of doubt and fear whispered in my ear, "You're exhausted, just walk for a few seconds." So, I did. As the band was playing and the fans were cheering us on, I started to walk. The runners were passing me by with less than a mile to go. Then, I remembered the old mantra that my brother use to tell me, "just 3 steps." He would tell me to just focus on the next 3 steps when I would want to give up during our runs. He said that this would help me perservere through the difficult times and convince myself that I could do it. So, that's what I did. I counted, "1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3..." And there it was...the moment of truth, what I had been anxiously awaiting for, what I had spent the last four months training for, what I had sacrificed for...the finish line. I ran as fast as I could, thinking "you're there." As I crossed the finish line, I thought, "mission accomplished." With a final time of 1:53:13, I had not only survived my first half marathon but I had finished under two hours. Once again, I knew that I had made my father proud...

1 comment:

  1. Awesome!!!That's a great PR!! Congratulations!!