Yesterday was my first Half Marathon. If you recall, I decided one day to train for my first 5K before my 40th birthday. Running was NOT something I ever did. EVER. At the time, I had a 3 and 6 year old. I worked full time. I was just getting into the swing of things juggling those boys and my life. I never, ever thought that one day I would be running a 1/2 marathon.
Well, this year, I started running with Black Girls Run, my running group. These women were so much fun. They were encouraging. They pushed me to keep going further. I went from 1 mile to 3 miles. From 3 miles to 5 miles. One day, I ran 7. Then, they signed me up for my first ten mile race. I conquered the Broad Street Run. I started training with a crew of ladies who were training for their first half marathons. Team 13.1 is what we started calling ourselves after the number of miles in the race.
Every morning at 5am, we trained hard. Some mornings, we ran hills. Some mornings we did boot camp. Some mornings, we did speed intervals. Once a week, we ran a long run. We did this for about 12 weeks. Finally, two weeks ago, one of the ladies asked me if I was running the 1/2 marathon with them. To tell the truth, I was scared that I couldn’t do it. It just sounded so crazy. In my head….I DON’T RUN HALF MARATHONS.
Finally, I realized the deadline had passed for me to register without paying a gazillion dollars. One of the teammates, pulled out of the event due to injury and I ended up with her race bib. Suddenly, I felt like the universe was conspiring to propel me to run this race. I drank the Kool Aid and got ready.
Saturday night, my stomach was killing me. I was so anxious. I think I got four hours of sleep.
I woke up on Sunday morning and started getting ready. When I got there, I found my training crew. We were all anxious but we had run the distance once before. We hugged each other and encouraged each other.
PRE-RACE laughs with my training crew….
During the race, we talked and felt good. We passed miles and enjoyed the race waving to friends and family all the way. We saw an elderly gentleman running in a POW-MIA shirt while holding an American flag on a long flagpole. It brought tears to my eyes. Around mile 7, one of my co-workers who had been reclaiming his health ran up and hugged me. He was running his first race too. We high fived and joked that we would see each other on the finish line.
Our running team had cheerleaders at every mile marker. They were awesome. They had signs and cheered for us by name. They were so uplifting. I cruised into mile ten feeling good.
THE BEST PEP SQUAD EVER!
Right around mile 10-all smiles
At mile 11 1/2, my body started to hit the wall. My breathing was not labored thanks to all of my swimming and endurance training. For an asthmatic, I used to worry about gasping for air but I have great breath control now. However, my legs were starting to feel it. My body started talking to me.
My knees said “Look here. Didn’t we have a talk not too long ago? Didn’t I tell you to sit your old azz down and rest? Why do you have me out here doing this?”
All of a sudden, I looked over and saw one of our coaches. This woman. WHEW. She was not running today but she knew that on training runs, we had all started to struggle at the end. She positioned herself right at that mile 11.5 marker and what did she yell out to us? “There you guys are. I have been waiting specifically for you.” Then she ran into the street and started yelling (with love) MOVE IT LADIES, THIS IS THE HOMESTRETCH. YOU ARE 2 MILES AWAY. LET”S GO! She then started to run next to us and push us. I told her I had to go slow at this point cause my legs were shot. She told me to “stop making excuses and keep moving.” LOL…gotta love it.
She ran the remaining two miles in with us before turning back to go run in with more of our team. BGR had almost 60 runners in the race. Amazing. She helped run in most of us. What an angel.
CROSSING THE FINISH LINE WITH OUR COACH NEXT TO US (she is on the right with no race bib on)
What was great was that we stayed next to each other for the entire race. We all finished within seconds of each other. Here we are right after we all received our post race medals. Minutes after finishing.
POST RACE PHOTO
I really did it. It is now starting to sink in.
It was a great experience. On a personal note, I also got to compete and train for all these weeks with my sorority sisters. We love each other and pushed, coached and held each other up. We all purchased special shirts to commemorate our 13.1 miles. To find them in pink and green was perfect. We showed up to our post race brunch rocking our AKA pearls and our shirts.
TEAM AKA/TEAM 13.1
Yup, Thirteen point freaking one…your girl is a RUNNER.