On Saturday, two friends from church (Paula and Natalie) and my wonderful friend Kim and I headed downtown. We stayed at The Inn at the Ballpark to avoid any race day problems and stress. Paula and Natalie were running their first ever half marathon and Kim came because I asked her to be there to support me. She said yes because she is awesome like that.
|Me, Natalie, and Paula|
|Me and Kim|
Our first stop after checking in was the Expo. This is the first race expo I have attended. I am not much for the big crowds and circus around events, but this felt important to me. I am glad we went. I was able to meet the wonderful Erin Henderson who blogs here. She is very inspiring and a very talented runner. It was a treat for me to visit with her for a little while!
|Me and Erin|
Sunday morning came quickly and I was still very calm. We got ready and I only got nervous at 6:25 as we were getting ready to leave the hotel. As soon as I walked to my corral all my nervousness faded. I was just ready. I hardly ever remembering feeling this ready about anything...not much is for sure. I was just ready to get running. I knew my plan by heart....so much so that I did not even have to think about it.
|Me ready to go wearing my throw away shirt|
|All ready to go|
I remembering thinking during the beautifully sung Star Spangled Banner that I wanted to remember as many moments as possible. Somehow I just felt like it was going to be a good or maybe even great day for me.
As the race started I had to control my tears. I was overwhelmed to be starting my fourth 26.2 mile journey. I wanted to enjoy each moment. I was thankful for the crowds and the silly and sometimes funny signs. Some of those were quite memorable. I was thankful that I would not be running alone ever. I was thankful I would see my family and Kim around mile 14. All I had to do was run and it was easy on this day.
I remember seeing Hewbrews 12:1 on a church marquee and that made me smile.
I remember the large American flag hanging from a ladder truck and that made me cry. It reminds of my Pop. No matter when or where I see a flag hanging from a ladder truck I cry.
|The fla from the ladder truck courtesy of the Chronicle|
After we split with the halfers, I remember thinking that the American flags and tree canopied streets in the Rice area were awesome. It was so pretty. I was thinking about all the wonderful texts and Facebook messages I received. I was feeling overwhelmed with support and love and I was crying again. Running just felt secondary to everything I was experiencing.
Before I knew it the race was half over and I started looking for my spectators. I finally saw them around mile 16 and was so happy. I was still feeling great. I loved seeing their smiling faces and hearing their encouraging words. I was also glad to know I would see them again when I was finished. That was a good thought!
|courtesy of Kim at mile 16|
The miles started to feel longer, but I was so focused. I was finally running the race I had wanted to run over a year ago. My splits were consistent and I knew I could have a great time if I just stayed mentally strong. Every single mile had been under 9 minutes and for the most part well under 9 minutes. I was not about to quit at mile 23 when I was feeling pretty done. I just kept telling myself it is just a 5K...no biggie.
At mile 24 I was ready to be finished. I could see downtown and felt like I was being pulled to the finish. My legs were so tired and my brain was just as tired. It took all my mental strength to stay focused, keep running, keep pushing, and keep my miles under 9 minutes. It happened. Not by much, but it happened. Mile 24 felt like one uphill battle and that is probably because it was filled with little hills courtesy of over and under passes on the Allen Parkway. It felt miserable, but the crowds were very encouraging.
The mile 25 sign was a thing of beauty. A mile to go and I knew I had this in the bag. I had run every step and there was no stopping now. I pushed and pushed and pushed. But, I was so tired and hot. I could not even look for my family and Kim. I had my music off so I could hear the crowds, but I honestly don't think I did. My head was filled with the thought of just keep running. All my inspiring mantras were running through my head giving me the strength to run as hard as possible. I ran and ran and ran until I saw the finish shoot. I was trying so hard not to cry. I had finally run the race I knew I was capable of running. I had finally finished my perfect race. I was determined to run for me and I had finally, finally, finally done it.
As soon as I crossed the finish line my legs started to give out on me. I was offered help, but I was still stubborn enough to want to get to my family on my own. I managed to keep it together and walk ever so slowly on my own to get my beautiful medal and bottle of water. The tears were flowing freely because I was overwhelmed. I just could not wrap my head around a 3:49.49....a 5 minute PR! Words still don't convey how happy that time makes me. I still cry thinking about running and finishing with that time.
I cried the entire eternity it took me to reunite with Drew, Kim and the kids. I could not wait to see them and hug them. I was ready for someone else to hold me up for a moment. I was ready to share my moment with those who had provided the most support and love to me.
After gathering some more strength we started walking back to the hotel. I wanted to hear about Paula and Natalie's race. There is nothing like the first race except maybe the perfect race. They had a great day. All in all the day was great for all of us.
|Paula and Natalie all clean and happy. Me still sweaty, but happy!|
All the words of congratulations on Facebook and texts were awesome! I am so thankful for everyone who supported me on this journey. It is one I will never forget. I am so proud of myself. I am so thankful it all came together for me on Sunday. You never know what race day will give you, but it was a present for me and one of the best presents ever! I even had my name in the paper on Monday. I finished 369/2048 women. Truly just a wonderful day for me.
I don't know how I am going to top this experience, but I plan to work really hard this year at staying healthy and getting stronger. This is an experience I plan to relive again in May and December!