My first half-marathon lasted 2 hours, 17 minutes and was more amazing than I dreamed.
Here’s where I write the post everyone is expecting – how unbelievable, life-changing and exciting yesterday was. Well, it was all of those things and more. It sounds like hyperbole, but the truth is there are no other words to express the absolute elation I felt as I crossed mile marker 12 and realized I was about to finish a half marathon. Not just finish it, but finish it on my goal pace. It was enough to make me want to sprint! Which I did – and then realized that was a terrible idea.
Mile 12 should have felt like the longest mile. Instead I was internally dancing a happy jig. When I realized it was the adrenaline and excitement telling me to sprint, not my legs (which felt great at the time, thanks to said adrenaline but were shot), I slowed it down to my pace. I felt the frustration of realizing I only had about seven minutes to finish on “time” which would have been 2 hours, 15 minutes. But at that moment, I realized that I was still going to come in under 2.20. And, I decided the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race” that I had taken for the past 11 miles was still true.
I jogged my last mile staring at the Art Museum as it loomed closer, squinting against the glittering sun.
This blog is called “The13thMile” because for me, that was the ultimate goal, but for others, it is only the half-way point. The beauty of The13thMile is that it can be a beginning, a mid-point, an end or a goal.
When I crossed the 13th mile, all discomfort, all pain dissolved from my body. I could barely think, or see or hear. I just knew I was grinning like a silly idiot. I could hear the roar of people, of cowbells, and cheering. Suddenly, so many people were everywhere. It was exhilarating. I was giving it my all; sprinting as hard as one can after 13 miles. My headphones were on, but my iPhone was on silent. I was soaking in the joy of knowing I had one tenth – one measly tenth – of a mile left.
Then, as I rounded the uphill curve, I saw the finish line and charged across it. The rest was a blur. I was handed a water and a metal and realized I needed to keep walking for a few minutes as my legs protested to the sudden stop.
In that moment, every hour of training paid off. Every long, hot Saturday run I slugged through during the summer, and the drained, headache-filled hours that followed it were worth it. Every night that I opted to drink water instead of a cocktail was worth it.
During my early training, I pictured race day as a scary and insurmountable feat. By August, I knew I could do it and this melted away, but in the first few weeks, I still thought I was crazy for posing such a seemingly impossible goal. When you achieve the goal you’ve deemed “crazy” and “impossible” – it feels pretty darn good. I highly recommend setting impossible goals and then reaching them.
Yesterday was a complete blast. It was life-altering and inspirational. I loved every second of the two plus hours that I (mostly) ran. The feeling of getting out there and mile after mile, incredulously looking at the mile marker and my time and realizing – I was exactly on pace, kept me flying. (If you can call a ten minute mile flying.)
I have more to say about my first half-marathon, but I will leave it at this today. There is more to tell tomorrow.